The road wins have been hard to come by for the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles, and the loss of three players to injury — Krista Tate, MiMi DuBose and RoRo Smith — kept things in perspective for coach Rusty Cram after GSU lost its sixth road conference game in a row Monday at Western Carolina.
“We talked about it as a staff and they were quick to caution me to be careful because we don’t have Krista, we don’t have MiMi and we don’t have RoRo,” said Cram. “On every team, there’s a couple of players that pick everybody else up. RoRo is why we won the Elon game [in overtime on Feb. 7]. She came in and picked everyone else up. Krista’s done that. MiMi’s done that. [Monday] was one of those first games that there was nobody there to answer the bell. We were just flat.”
The Eagles (11-14, 8-8 Southern Conference) led by as many as nine in the first half, but fell behind at the half, 26-24.
“We weren’t playing great, we were just playing better than them,” said Cram about the first half. “Then when they made that run and got up in our face a little bit, we just kind of leveled off and we never came out of it.”
Georgia Southern still hasn’t defeated a conference opponent on the road, and the Eagles are running out of chances before the SoCon tournament.
“There’s no question we have to turn a corner and it’s frustrating,” said Cram. “I would feel a lot better going into the tournament knowing we won one or two on the road, but now you’ve got to go to Davidson and [Appalachian State] to try and win a ballgame. I thought we’d have turned by now, and it’s frustrating. There’s no reason these kids haven’t learned to finish on the road.”
The biggest issue for the Eagles, who have seen freshmen Jordi Cook, Aishya Wofford and Danielle Spencer playing larger rolls due to injuries, has been the lack of support away from Hanner Fieldhouse.
“There was nobody there in that coliseum,” Cram said about WCU. “It was just dead, and they haven’t learned to make that excitement from within, and that’s what’s hurting them right now.”
The Eagles have remained unbeaten at home in SoCon play, but the last two came down to overtime and a last-second layup.
“As far as I’m concerned,” said Cram, “for the last month they’ve played over and beyond what they’re capable of playing. I really feel like that and I know we do as a staff. [Monday] was setback, and it’s the first time we’ve seen that.”
Georgia Southern will have another home game before heading on the road for two straight. The Eagles host Charleston (8-18, 5-12) today at 7 p.m. at Hanner Fieldhouse.
“We can get [WCU] out of their minds,” Cram said about today. “We can get their attention and get them focused on Charleston and hopefully get some excitement going for them. Get this behind them and try again.”
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.