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Eagles soar over Georgia State to qualify for Sun Belt tournament
GS Basketball

ATLANTA - Junior Tatum Barber's three-pointer with 22.3 seconds snapped a 70-all tie and propelled Georgia Southern women's basketball into the 2020 Sun Belt Conference tournament with a 77-74 victory over host Georgia State on Saturday afternoon at the GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta.

The Eagles improve to 10-19 overall and 7-11 in the Sun Belt, while Georgia State ends its season at 8-21 overall and 5-13 in the league. Georgia Southern will now travel to a site to be announced later tonight for first-round tournament action on Tuesday, March 10.

Georgia Southern took a 19-15 lead in the first quarter, thanks in large part to senior Amira Atwater coming off the bench and delivering four assists - breaking the all-time assist record with her 420th career assist. She broke the record of 419, set by Danna Simpson (1998-2002).

The Eagles took a three-point lead into halftime, 37-34, then extended that lead to 10 points, 57-47, at the end of the third quarter.

Georgia State rallied late in the fourth quarter, eventually using back-to-back fastbreak layups by Tehya Lyons to tie the game at 70-all with 44 seconds left. 

Georgia Southern head coach Anita Howard called time out, and on the next possession, the Eagles got a pair of offensive rebounds before Barber sprung free on the left wing and drilled her tie-breaking three-pointer to give the Eagles the lead. 

Taylor Henderson missed a jumper on the next possession for Georgia State, and Georgia Southern then went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 12 seconds to clinch the victory.

Barber and Hailey Dias-Allen each ended up with 16 points to lead five Eagles in double figures. Nikki McDonald registered her fourth straight double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Amira Atwater and Alexis Brown each chipped in 10.

Georgia Southern women's basketball will be the No. 9 seed in the upcoming 2020 Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball tournament, announced this evening with the reveal of the tournament bracket from the Sun Belt Conference office.

The Eagles will travel to Lafayette, Louisiana, and will take on fourth-seeded Louisiana on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET at the Cajundome. The other two teams the Ragin' Cajuns are hosting - No. 5 seed Little Rock and No. 6-seed Appalachian State - will play at 4 p.m. The winners of both games will then play on Wednesday at 8 p.m., for a berth into the 2020 Sun Belt Women's Basketball Final Four, which will take place in New Orleans on March 14-15.

Georgia Southern advances to the tournament after a year hiatus - the last time the Eagles played in the tournament, it was the 2018 Sun Belt First Round when the then-No. 11-seeded Eagles matched up against No. 6 Louisiana and lost an 88-81 triple overtime decision to the Ragin' Cajuns.

Tickets go on sale from the Cajundome box office on Monday and can be purchased for $10. For more information, contact the box office at 337-265-2170.

Below is the complete bracket for the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Tournament.

First Round at Campus Sites
Tuesday, March 10
Game 1 – No. 5 Little Rock vs. No. 8 Appalachian State • Lafayette, La. (ESPN+), 4 p.m.
Game 2 – No. 9 Georgia Southern at No. 4 Louisiana • Lafayette, La. (ESPN+), 8 p.m.
Game 3 – No. 10 Texas State at No. 3 UTA • Arlington, Texas (ESPN+), 7 p.m.
Game 4 – No. 6 South Alabama vs. No. 7 Arkansas State • Arlington, Texas (ESPN+), 9:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals at Campus Sites
Wednesday, March 11
Game 5 – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner • Lafayette, La. (ESPN+), 8 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner • Arlington, Texas (ESPN+), 8 p.m.
Semifinals at Smoothie King Center
Saturday, March 14
Game 7 – Game 5 Winner vs. No. 1 Troy (ESPN+), 6 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 6 Winner vs. No. 2 Coastal Carolina (ESPN+), 8:30 p.m.
Championship Game at Smoothie King Center
Sunday, March 15

Game 9 – Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner (ESPN3), 7 p.m.