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GSU loses heartbreaker in Hanner

    Alex Abraham picked the pocket of Georgia Southern senior MiMi DuBose after DuBose drove the length of the floor for a potential game-tying bucket, and the Western Carolina steal allowed the Catamounts to hold on for a 74-72 win on Monday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    It was the last home game for DuBose and the Eagles’ four other seniors, Danielle Spencer, Lacie Dowling, Jordi Cook and Brittany Benzio.
    “They’ve done a really good job building a culture,” said GSU coach Chris Vozab, who took over the program when the five Eagles were juniors. “Some of the stuff that they do doesn't show up on the stat sheet. It’s behind the scenes helping the younger people know how we want to build this thing and get it going. I’m very appreciative to them for all they’ve done.”
    With Georgia Southern (9-18, 7-9 Southern Conference) trailing 73-69 with under 20 seconds remaining, Anna Claire Knight missed a 3-pointer, but it was rebounded by Sierra Kirkland, who kicked it out to Angel McGowan. McGowan drilled a 3 with 10 seconds left.
    An immediate foul sent WCU (13-15, 7-10) guard Justin Taylor to the free throw line, where she made one of two, which turned out to be good enough for the win.
    The Eagles took a brief lead late in the game when Knight converted an old-fashioned three-point play that gave GSU a 69-68 lead, but Taylor immediately answered, drilling a 3-pointer on the other end that put the Catamounts ahead for good.
    Taylor led all scorers with 25 points.
    Western broke things open early in the second half with an 17-6 run, highlighted with old-fashioned three-point plays by Taylor and Brianne Mack that left GSU trailing 51-37 with 11:34 remaining.
    GSU remained down 14, 61-47, with 8:05 to go.
    DuBose hit a 3 to spark a 15-5 run, capped when a DuBose steal at midcourt resulted in a Briana Jones free throw and GSU trailed 66-62 with 2:36 remaining.
“We finally got into attack mode on both sides of the floor, and we were being aggressive,” Vozab said. “I thought for too much of the game we were on our heals defensively and a half-step late to mid-range shooters.”
    DuBose led the Eagles with 23 points including three 3s, all in the second half. McGowan and Knight each finished with 17.
    “It’s frustrating to come back from as far back as we did and still lose the game,” DuBose said. “We can’t focus on the loss. We have to focus on the things we can correct moving forward. At this point you have to have a short memory.”
    The Eagles were scoreless for the first four minutes of the game, while WCU built a 4-0 lead, but DuBose started the GSU scoring with a layup that sparked an 11-3 run.
    Lindsay Simpson snapped the streak with a free throw, tied the score with a 3 and hit another 3 to put the Catamounts ahead 14-11.
Jones slowed Simpson’s scoring with a layup off a dish from LACIE Dowling, and McGowan hit a wide open 3 to put GSU back up 16-14.
    The Eagles took their largest lead of the half when Knight stole it away and threw it down court to McGowan, who drew a foul on the layup and converted the free throw to give GSU a 21-16 advantage.
    Six-straight points by Taylor and a jumper by Abraham helped the Catamounts trail by just a one-point margin, 25-24, and the half.
    The Eagles made just 6 of 11 first-half free throws.
    DuBose was intent on a strong finish to the season, as the Eagles face Wofford on Friday at 6 p.m., and Furman on Sunday at 2 p.m., to cap the regular season. Both games are away from Hanner Fieldhouse, where GSU is done for the year.
    “I couldn’t have wanted to play anywhere else in the country,” said an emotional DuBose. “We have great fans and a great community, and I love my teammates no matter what. I couldn’t be prouder of the career we’ve had, and we’re not done yet.”

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.