CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — When it came to offense, the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles just never got anything going.
Not at the same time, anyway.
In the first half, Meredyth Frye’s 11 points kept GSU in the game, and second-half scoring spurts by Krista Tate and Samantha Williams and MiMi DuBose kept it interesting, but in the end, No. 10 seed Western Carolina hit the foul shots it needed to win 48-42 and knock No. 7 GSU out of the first round of the 2011 Southern Conference Tournament Thursday at McKenzie Arena.
"They did a good job defensively, number one, but we never did get in a rhythm offensively," said GSU coach Rusty Cram. "We weren’t reading some of the things they were doing and we didn’t get into a rhythm where everybody was contributing."
The Eagles (12-18) led 38-37 with 5:44 remaining in the game when the turnover and foul bugs caused the Lady Catamounts to get plenty of looks from the free-throw line.
A jumper by WCU’s Kristen Lyon with 10:26 remaining in the game was the last field goal by the Catamounts, but they closed out the game by shooting 11 for 16 from the charity stripe, while the Eagles made just two of their last five shot attempts and committed five turnovers in the game’s final five minutes.
Georgia Southern scored only 19 points in first half and entered the break trailing by five after shooting just 18 times and making only four of them.
The Eagles finished with a 34.1 percent field-goal percentage (14-41).
"You can’t not shoot in the first half and hope they fall in the second half," Cram said. "You’ve got to do it from start to finish. We were being too selective in the first half."
Frye scored 11 of her 13 points in the first half, knocking down seven of them from the free-throw line.
"We took what they gave us in the first half instead of creating," Cram said, "and that was frustrating. We never got to the rim, and we didn’t have anything inside because they were switching everything. That created pressure outside and we couldn’t get any looks."
"I think we were all just waiting to see who was going to take over the game," added Frye. "I wanted to get something going. I got some fouls called and it was working for me. I got to the foul line so I just kept doing it."
Needing offense in the second half, Tate was the first to answer the call after Frye carried the offense in the first.
"She was the only one really doing anything," Tate said. "I knew I needed to step up. I only had three points in the half and I knew I could do better. I came out looking to be hungry."
Tate scored the first six of the first nine points of the second period and scored 10 of her 13 points in the final 20 minutes.
Williams, who hit one of GSU’s two 3-pointers scored seven of her nine points in the second half, and DuBose, who went scoreless from the floor after returning from injury in the regular-season finale against Furman, got all four of her points in the second half.
A first-half 3 was the only scoring by senior point guard Jamie Navarro, who played her final game as an Eagle, along with Logan Youngblood, who was sidelined with injury.
Tate, who graduated with eligibility remaining and plans grad school next semester, has not decided if she will return for another basketball season at GSU.
She celebrated with Navarro and Youngblood on senior night.
"I have to talk to my parents about it," said Tate. "As of now, I’m still unsure. We’ll see. We’ll make a decision as soon as I get home."
: Williams entered the game with 497 career points. Her first layup of the second half put her above the 500 mark. … Freshman forward Danielle Spencer suffered an injury in practice Wednesday before the game and did not play. … Western Carolina’s Emily Clarke led all scorers with 14 points. Kaila’Shea Menendez added 11.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.