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GSU women pound Terriers, advance in SoCon tournament
Georgia Southern forward Briana Jones looks to distribute the ball against Wofford on Friday in the opening round of the 2014 Southern Conference tournament at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C. (SoCon Photos) - photo by SoCon Photos

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The Georgia Southern women’s basketball program isn’t done with the Southern Conference quite yet.

    The Eagles came out of the gate on fire, shot 45 percent from the floor and cruised to a 75-62 win over Wofford on Friday in the opening round of the Southern Conference tournament at Kimmel Arena on the campus of UNC Asheville.

    The Eagles (10-20) didn’t make a 3 the entire game but dominated the paint, getting 27 combined points and 29 rebounds from forwards Briana Jones, Danielle Spencer and Sierra Kirkland.

    “They were so consistent on both ends for us and that was huge,” GSU coach Chris Vozab said. “It was good to see them really hit their stride.”

Jones recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. She also blocked a pair of shots and recorded three steals.

    “At this time of the season, all those little things matter,” Jones said. “We focused on them and it really paid off. We all really worked together in this game, and the three of us who got a lot of minutes, we produced.”

    Georgia Southern scored 22 points tin the paint in the first half to help with a 37-30 advantage at the break. The Eagles shot 52 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.

    They were intense from the opening tip, as MiMi DuBose slashed immediately to the bucket for the game’s first points.

    “Tournament time is such a fun time, there’s a lot of adrenaline, so we knew if we came out strong, had a lot of energy and played to our potential, we were going to win the game,” DuBose said.

    Anna Claire Knight was next to score in the paint, and just 1:53 into the game, after DuBose took a steal the length of the floor for a 6-0 lead, Wofford called a timeout.

    “It’s 10 four-minute rounds, and we talked about having to come out and punch first in that first round,” Vozab said. “It means we’re executing on both ends and firing on all cylinders, and our kids got us off to a really good start.”

    Coming out of the timeout, Jones swatted a Chenel Stokes shot into the seats. Wofford couldn’t inbound the ball, which prompted another quick timeout.

    The Terriers finally scored on a Jordan Frazier layup, and cut the score to 6-5, but the Eagles went on an 14-2 run stopped finally by a Logan Morris 3. Morris hit a pair of 3s and scored 10 points, and Stokes and Frazier each scored 17.

    The Terriers (6-23) made only 5 of 24 3-point attempts. GSU’s defense was all over them, forcing 16 turnovers and blocking five shots.

    DuBose led all scorers with 20 points, scoring 12 in the paint and drilling all eight of her free throws, and Knight added 15 points.

If the Eagles are to make it to the SoCon semifinals, they’ll have to get through a juggernaut.

    The No. 7-seeded Eagles will face No. 1 seed and regular-season champion Chattanooga at noon today in the quarterfinals. The Mocs (26-3) went through the SoCon with a perfect 18-0 record and have won 34 league games in a row dating back to early 2013.

    The Eagles did something on Feb. 2, that not many have done this season, taking a 30-28 lead at halftime against Chattanooga in Hanner Fieldhouse. The Mocs won 72-60, but it was encouraging nonetheless.

    “It gave us a blueprint for what we need to do,” Vozab said. That first half we just did all the details on both ends of the floor. It really kind of showed us that when we do those things, we can beat anybody we play, and that’s got to be the mindset for (today).”

    “We can’t have letdowns on energy, we can’t have letdowns on defense, we can’t have letdowns on any part of the game,” added DuBose. “We have to come out strong and see what happens.”

NOTES: The Eagles lost to Wofford on Feb. 23, 73-49, but finished the season 2-1 against the Terriers. … Georgia Southern improved to 23-19 all time in SoCon tournament games, but have lost seven of the last 10.

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