Hot and cold streaks proved to be the story of the game Wednesday afternoon, and the Georgia Southern women were able to use an 8-0 run in overtime as they outlasted Florida International winning by a final score of 81-74 as they improved to 3-0 on the season.
Trailing 71-69 in overtime Mya Burns hit a jumper that started the Eagles key 8-0 run. Burns added a pair of free throws and layup and iced the game with a pair of free throws later. Burns led the Eagles with 20 points while Eden Johnson added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Terren Ward added 10 points.
“I knew this FIU team was a quality opponent,” said Eagle head coach Anita Howard. “They pushed us in every aspect and I’m happy our players showed up. This was a gritty, grind it out kind of win."
Coach Howard decided to not stress out over turnovers in the Eagles last game against Ft. Valley State when the Eagles committed 29 and went on to win by 28 points. It was much of the same story Wednesday afternoon as the Eagles were able to overcome 31 turnovers in the victory.
“The turnovers we make you can make a blooper reel out of,” said Howard. “We dribbled the ball out of bounds, we threw the ball through each other's hands. Credit FIU some for pressing us and keeping us on our toes. I told the team we will keep working on turnovers but we won’t stress out about it as long as we go all out, and they did that tonight.”
The Eagles started the game hot hitting 8 of 13 shots in building a 22-14 first quarter lead. The Eagles extended their lead to 39-26 at the half despite going on a four-minute scoring drought toward the end of the second quarter.
The Panthers roared back in the third quarter going on a 14-5 run to cut the Eagle lead to 44-40 with 4:41 left in the third. FIU took the lead two minutes into the fourth quarter on a layup by Tanajah Hayes and the lead would change six times over the final eight minutes of the game.
The Eagles had a chance to ice the game with free throws late in regulation but left the door open for the Panthers who eventually tied the game with six seconds to go on a layup by Emerald Ekpiteta to send the game into overtime at 67-67.
“Our team doesn’t give up,” said Howard. “I am pleased to see that this early in the season we don’t give up and don’t have a loser’s mentality any more. We expect to win and we grind it out even if it’s not a pretty game.”
Once again, the Eagles can attribute much of Wednesday afternoon’s success to their play on defense. The Eagles held the Panthers to just 35 percent from the field and only 13 percent from the 3-point line where they were just 3-23 in the game.
“Their last game they shot 59 percent from the field and 65 percent from the 3-point line,” said Howard. “That is a good shooting team and one of the things we wanted to do today was disrupt every shot attempt they took and so defensively I am really pleased with our effort.”
The 3-0 start is the best for the Eagles since the 90-91 season. Up next Georgia Southern flies out west where they will play San Diego State and San Diego Christian Saturday and Monday.