By MATT YOGUS
Georgia Southern couldn’t see the Phoenix for the trees.
Elon used its length and size to disrupt just about everything the Eagles tried to do, as GSU fell 68-49 on Monday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Eagles shot just 7 of 30 from the floor in the opening half and Elon’s defense was all over GSU, recording nine steals and eight blocked shots while allowing only two trips to the free-throw line during the first 20 minutes, in which Elon never trailed.
“We made multiple careless passes early and eventually it affected our confidence to the point that when we were taking shots, we weren't taking them to make them, we were taking them to get a shot off,” GSU coach Chris Vozab said. “As a program we talk about playing to finish, not playing to get a foul called. Play for the and-one.”
The Phoenix (6-10, 2-3 Southern Conference) got offensive help from all over the floor as Kelsey Harris (12 points) and Jessica Farmer, Shannon Cochraham and Lauren Brown (10 points each) all reached double digits.
Georgia Southern (5-12, 3-3) was led by Anna Claire Knight, who scored 12 of her 17 points in the second half. Danielle Spencer added 13 rebounds and seven points.
Elon led by as many as 21 points, when a layup by Jennifer Rhodes put the Phoenix ahead 46-25. The Eagles got as close as 11 in the second half when a 3 by Knight and a jumper by MiMi DuBose cut the score to 57-46 with 3 minutes, 22 seconds remaining, but Elon closed the game on a 11-3 run for the final margin.
For the game, GSU shot 25 percent (17 of 69) from the floor.
The Eagles played the Phoenix to an early 5-5 tie, but quickly went dead from the floor going on a 20-5 scoring drought that lasted 11:22. The only points mustered in the run by GSU were a layup and a 3-pointer by Lacie Dowling.
“We let them get early looks in the game, and when that happens a team is going to get comfortable and confident,” Vozab said. “The basket just seemed to get bigger and bigger for them, and they kept making big shots.”
The Eagles opened the game shooting just 3 of 14 from the floor and committed 15 first-half turnovers.
The Elon run ended with a free throw by Spencer and a jumper by Sierra Kirkland that left GSU trailing 25-13 with under 7 minutes to go in the half.
The Phoenix extended the lead to 33-17 at the break.
The Eagles return to action for their third straight home game against Davidson in Hanner Fieldhouse at 5 p.m.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.