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Eagle Basketball stays alive with comeback win
GS Basketball
Georgia Southern's Simeon Carter celebrates following the Eagles 82-81 victory over Louisiana in the second round of the Sun Belt Tournament at Hanner Fieldhouse on Monday. The Eagles advance to Wednesday's quarterfinal at Georgia State. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT

The mantra for tournament basketball in March is ‘survive and advance’.

Emphasis on survival.

The Georgia Southern men’s team seemed to alternate between thrilling comebacks and devastating letdowns as it worked its way through the regular season. The second round of the Sun Belt Conference tournament against Louisiana on Monday night did a bit of both.

The Eagles fell behind early and trailed by 16 twice during the second half, but a furious rally over the final minutes allowed Georgia Southern to fight on another day with an 82-81 victory.

The Eagles (19-13) fell behind by 11 in the first half, but battled back to within 49-45 at halftime. Georgia Southern allowed a 10-0 run by the Ragin’ Cajuns to begin the second half and the season felt lost when a Cedric Russell 3-pointer put ULL up 69-53 with under 12 minutes to play.

But that’s when the Eagles made their stand.

Quan Jackson (16 points) Calvin Wishart (15) and Elijah McCadden (5) hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to help breathe life into the home team. Louisiana missed seven straight attempts from the field and Georgia Southern began running off its deficit faster than the Cajuns could dribble out the game clock.

Isaiah Crawley (14 points) drew the Eagles even at 78-78 with a layup at the 2:38 mark. Louisiana’s P.J. Hardy buried a 3 to put ULL up again, but those were the final points on the night for the Cajuns.

Crawley continued to grind in the paint, laying one in off an assist by Wishart to get the Eagles within a point before following up a Jackson miss with a put-back layup at the 1:01 mark to give Georgia Southern the final edge.

Not to stray away from the drama that has followed them all season, the Eagles couldn’t put things away when Wishart missed a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left.

Holding until the final seconds, Louisiana went for the win. Georgia Southern played stifling defense and forced the Cajuns out of their designed play. The ball still found its way to Mylik Wilson for a great look, but the buzzer sounded as the ball rattled away from the net.

The drama and emotion was a high point for the Eagles, but they’ll have to erase the slate and get right back into do-or-die mentality.

Georgia Southern will have Tuesday to rest up before making the short trip up to Atlanta for a tournament quarterfinal game against Georgia State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The loser’s season will be done while the winner will advance to New Orleans and keep the dream of making the NCAA tournament alive.