Florida Atlantic 75
Georgia Southern 55
GSU: DuBose — 16 points
It was the first game as a head coach for Georgia Southern’s Chris Vozab and Florida Atlantic’s Kellie Lewis-Jay, so somebody was going to get their new era off to a good start.
FAU made sure in the second half that it would be Lewis-Jay.
The Owls scored 40 second half points and cruised to a 75-55 win Friday in Hanner Fieldhouse.
It wasn’t all bad for the Eagles (0-1), who got quality minutes from freshmen Sierra Kirkland and Kiki Rawles who combined for nine points. Kirkland added eight rebounds.
They also accounted for seven of the Eagles’ 21 turnovers.
“A lot of the things they struggled with, they’re going to get better at. They’re freshmen playing their first college game,” Vozab said. “Some of that is kind of taking that energy that’s usually good on the defensive end, and taking it to the offensive end – being a little sharper.”
MiMi DuBose led GSU with 17 points.
“Everybody’s adjusted really well, and the four (new) coaches we have are doing a great job,” DuBose said. “We think they’re a great fit for our team and our program, and we think we’re going to make a great run this year.”
The Eagles got off to a slow start in the second half, with FAU opening on a 10-4 run, but the Owls’ momentum hit a brick wall when Meredyth Frye, with the shot clock running out, hit a long 3 to spark GSU on a run of its own.
Frye took it away on the other end and tossed it to DuBose, who scored easily in transition. Scores by Anna Claire Knight and Danielle Spencer cut the Eagles’ deficit to 47-43.
The Owls worked their way back to a seven-point lead, but Rawls dug back in on a 3 off a dish from Frye to cut it to 54-50.
That was as close as the Eagles would get.
Florida Atlantic (1-0) was led in scoring by Chenise Miller and Latavia Dempsey, who each finished with 16 points.
“We know (Miller) is good and we tried to change up some looks,” Vozab said, “but they have a lot of shooters so we had to be careful.”
The Eagles trailed by as many as 10 in the first half, when FAU’s Jasmine Queen sunk a free throw to put the Owls up 25-15, but GSU dug back in, due in large part to 15 FAU fouls in the first 20 minutes.
Georgia Southern hit 15 of 22 free throws in the span, and rode DuBose’s 13 first-half points to stay with the Owls.
The Eagles nearly matched Florida Atlantic’s fouling machine with 13 before the break, but the Owls shot just 7 of 15 from the line to let GSU hang around.
After DuBose was fouled at the 3-point line, she hit all three freebies to give GSU its only lead at 30-29 with 2:25 left until halftime.
FAU added six unanswered points before the break, including Ashley Stevenson’s bucket, which was the beneficiary of an offensive rebound by Dempsey in the final minute.
The Eagles return to action Fri., Nov. 23, at Georgia State’s Thanksgiving Tournament in Atlanta.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.