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Davidson's experience too much for GSU women
GSU WOMEN 4 col col
Georgia Southern’s Elise Whitney (top center) and Jessica Geiger harass Davidson’s Mandy Halbersleben on an inbounds pass during the first half of Saturday’s game at Hanner Fieldhouse. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT /Staff
    The effort was there, but the experience simply was not.
    Playing without its top two scorers and another key player, a young Georgia Southern team was outmanned Saturday, falling to Davidson 69-51 at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    GSU’s leading scorer, junior guard Tiffany Brown (13.9 points per game), was forced to sit following an ejection Monday night at UNC Greensboro, while junior guard Shawnda Atwood, whose 8.8 points a contest rank second on the team, missed the game with an injury. Junior forward Christa Waterman also watched from the bench because of an injury.
    “When you face experienced players, especially a team as smart as Davidson, even though you work hard, you’ve still got to play smart,” Eagle coach Rusty Cram said. “That’s experience, and that’s what we lacked out there tonight.”
    With the win and Western Carolina’s 80-72 victory over Chattanooga, the Wildcats (14-3, 5-1) moved into sole possession of first place in the Southern Conference standings.
    Georgia Southern’s (7-10, 2-4) starting lineup, featuring one freshman, two sophomores and a pair of juniors, attempted to carry the load but didn’t get much support from its reserve players. Davidson scored 32 points off the bench to the Eagles’ 12 – a glaring discrepancy in the 18-point loss, GSU’s third consecutive defeat.
  But the Eagles weren’t looking for excuses.    
    “We just have to go with what we’ve got,” said freshman point guard Carolyn Whitney, who finished with 14 points and was the only GSU player to reach double figures. “I felt like we could have beaten them tonight, but we just had too many turnovers – and I blame that loss on myself. I had too many turnovers (nine), but we could have beaten them if we hit our shots and kept the momentum going without turnovers.”
    The Eagles coughed up the ball 25 times, which tied a season high, but also forced Davidson into 26 turnovers. The Wildcats recorded 20 steals, and it was the timing of those takeaways that doomed the Eagles.
    “We’d get back within six, seven or eight points, but then we’d come down and turn the ball over two or three times,” Cram said. “We made mistakes, but that’s the maturity we’ve got to fight for — the experience that will come in time. Sooner or later the tide is going to turn.”
    Davidson established its dominance early, unleashing a 17-3 run midway through the first half which included 10 unanswered points over a 22-second span. Georgia Southern was ahead by one at the beginning of the Wildcats’ surge but never led again and trailed 39-29 at the half.
    Senior guard Jessica Mitchell scored 13 to lead three Davidson players in double figures.
    Georgia Southern appeared to have snapped out of its offensive skid a few weeks ago, but the woes continued Saturday as the Eagles were 18-for-61 (29.5 percent) from the field for the game.
    What will it take for GSU to bust through the slump?
    “We just have to do the little things that don’t involve shooting,” said Whitney, who also tallied five steals. “We have to play better defense, get steals and do everything else that leads to baskets. We’ll come around when we get all of our players healthy.”
    Georgia Southern continues its current three-game homestand Monday, hosting Western Carolina at 7 p.m.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.