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GSU ladies lose late lead
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The faces of Georgia Southern players Danielle Spencer, left, Aishya Wofford, center, and Tashayla Steede tell the story from the bench as the Lady Eagles' attempts to win and then to tie the game in the last minute against College of Charleston come up short Saturday at Hanner Fieldhouse.

Changes are coming to the Georgia Southern women’s basketball team’s lineup if the Lady Eagles’ two seniors and three juniors do not start playing better, head coach Rusty Cram said Saturday.

GSU squandered a seven-point lead with 6:59 to play and lost, 47-44, to College of Charleston in a Southern Conference game at Hanner Fieldhouse.

"We just played an absolutely brain-dead second half," Cram said.

A crowd of 673 watched as College of Charleston (6-15, 5-7) took a 45-44 lead on Alyssa Frye’s jumper with 36 seconds remaining and held on to beat GSU (7-13, 3-8).

GSU senior guard Janay Wilson drove to the basket and had her shot blocked by Frye with 17 seconds left. Frye rebounded and Wilson fouled her. College of Charleston’s Jillian Brown missed her first free-throw attempt but made the second to give the Lady Cougars a 46-44 lead.

GSU sophomore guard MiMi DuBose attempted a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left but it missed. GSU junior guard Meredyth Frye rebounded under the basket but missed a put-back attempt with 3 seconds left.

"MiMi took the shot. She just missed the shot," Cram said. "But we got the rebound and we missed it. Meredyth got the offensive rebound underneath and missed the next shot. So we had two shots to tie that ball game."

College of Charleston’s Megan Fischer rebounded and was fouled by GSU junior forward Briana Scott with 2 seconds left. Fischer made her second free throw to make it 47-44.

The loss snapped GSU’s two-game winning streak and stalled the Lady Eagles’ bid for their 200th SoCon victory. GSU is 199-139 since joining the league for the 1992-93 season.

"I thought we fought to get ourselves a spurt," Cram said. "We found a pretty good combination, made a run and got up seven. But we made some very, very dumb, poor choices down the stretch.

"And offensive rebounding? We put them on the line. Two of the very things that were our keys going in was we could not let them offensive rebound. They got, what is it, 21 offensive rebounds? Absolutely kicked our rear-end on the boards and that broke our back, and then put them on the free-throw line and they were in the one-and-one (bonus) early. Just free throws and offensive rebounds, that was the difference in the ball game because we just did not play smart basketball."

College of Charleston out-rebounded GSU, 44-35, and shot 58.6 percent (17 of 29) from the foul line in the game. The Lady Cougars were led by Fischer, who scored a game-high 13 points. Latisha Harris added 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds.

GSU was led by DuBose, who scored 10 points and was the only Lady Eagle in double-figure scoring.

GSU’s Frye came out of the game with 9:31 to play in the first half after suffering what appeared to be an injury to her right ankle. She did not return in the first half but did play in the second half.

GSU led, 18-16, at halftime. College of Charleston shot only 18.5 percent (5 of 27) from the field in the first half compared to GSU’s 35.3-percent (6 of 17) shooting.

In the second half, GSU sophomore guard Lacie Dowling’s 3-pointer gave the Lady Eagles a 36-34 lead. GSU sophomore forward Danielle Spencer scored to make it 38-34 with 9:13 left to play.

With 6:57 left, GSU’s DuBose made a 3-pointer to make it 41-34, the Lady Eagles’ largest lead of the game.

"Lacie gave us quality minutes tonight. I’m very proud of Lacie," Cram said of Dowling, who came off the bench and scored five points. "She stepped in and gave us great, great minutes. I’m very proud of her."

GSU starters Frye (2 points), Scott (4 points) and Wilson (6 points) struggled.

"All these teams have Meredyth figured out," Cram said. "She’s got to find a way to elevate her game or we’ve got to move on. It’s one of the two. But right now, they’re making her play a game she doesn’t want to play and they’re taking her completely out of it. She’s a junior and she’s got to step up her game because she’s an experienced player."

GSU freshman guard Anna Claire Knight (4 points) also struggled, but Cram said he was pleased with the effort she gave in her fourth consecutive start.

"Anna Claire is a freshman," Cram said. "She’s going to play in big games right now like a freshman. That’s the problem with having to start a freshman right now, but we’re having to because other people aren’t getting it done.

"And Anna Claire’s been giving us quality minutes. But (opponents) are very, very quick and it’s a school of hard knocks, the way she’s learning. That learning curve for freshmen is very, very tough this time of year. But she’s getting better.

"I have no problem with Anna Claire. She’s coming along fine. It’s the experienced players that I’m concerned about."

College of Charleston steadily chipped at GSU’s lead and went ahead, 45-44, on Alyssa Frye’s jumper with 36 seconds left.

DuBose has led GSU in scoring in seven games. She and Frye tied for team-high with 14 points in a 61-60 loss at Elon on Jan. 13.

"I think (Cram) is just frustrated because we knew going into the game that all we had to do was keep them from getting to the free-throw line and box out, and that’s the two things we didn’t do in the second half," DuBose said. "And that cost us the game. So he’s frustrated because (GSU’s coaching staff) told us that’s what we had to do and we didn’t do it. So I don’t blame him."

GSU’s next game will be at 6 p.m. Monday at Wofford.


Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.