Although the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles have started to turn things around after a 1-8 start, there’s still one more corner to get around.
The Elon Phoenix put themselves into the mix in the Southern Conference with Monday’s 77-61 win over the Eagles (5-9, 2-3 SoCon), keeping GSU winless on the road in SoCon play.
“Last year we led the conference in road wins, and this year we’re the opposite,” said Eagles’ coach Rusty Cram. “That’s the last remaining corner we have to turn for this team, getting that win on the road. I don’t care who it is — Greensboro, Elon — it doesn’t make any difference.”
Not that it was the same Elon team from years past. The Lady Phoenix (7-5, 2-2) already boast home wins over the Eagles and Samford.
“They’re deeper, they’re better at the positions and they are getting a taste of winning which they haven’t had the past several years,” said Cram. “Elon, to me, is by far the toughest place in the conference to play.”
The Phoenix shook off an early 10-point deficit by dominating the glass, out-rebounding GSU 39-23.
“That’s what’s going to hurt us this year, when people go two posts that are big,” Cram said. “We don’t have that inside game right now, and they exposed us. They hammered us on the glass and we couldn’t recover.”
What the Eagles currently lack in the post, they make up with in guard play. Senior point guard Jamie Navarro is the No. 13 3-point shooter in the nation at 45.8 percent, edging Penn State’s Zhaque Gray (45.7 percent) and tied with Boise State’s Kati Isham.
Sophomore Meredyth Frye has lit up the scoreboard of late, averaging 22 points in the last two games, and at 5-foot-10, has done it all over the floor.
“She played the point, she played the wing, she defended the post and we posted her up inside because she’s very good around the basket,” said Cram about Frye’s roll in the Elon game. “There’s one thing you can’t teach an athlete that Meredyth has, and that’s court savvy. To me, after 30 years of coaching, you either got it or you don’t.
“She can hurt you outside, she can hurt you inside, she’s a great free-throw shooter, she’s a good ball handler and what makes her go is the double-double. She’s pulling down eight to 10 rebounds over these last three or four ballgames, and she does it without getting into foul trouble.”
Frye is also one of the reasons the Eagles have been starting five guards.
“She’s put herself in a position where we have to play her,” he said, “a coach’s dream.”
The Eagles will try again for the first SoCon road win today at 7 p.m. against UNC Greensboro.
The Lady Spartans are another surprise in the SoCon this season, and sit as the only team yet to lose a league game.
They are led by a pair of senior guards — Monique Floyd and Amanda Leigh — whose combined 27.3 points per game account for 42.5 percent of UNCG’s points.
Navarro (13.6 points per game) and Frye (11.1) lead the way for the GSU offense.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.