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GSU shutdown in a shootout
Big second half gives Cats 101 - 92 victory
012307 GSU HOOPS 2
Georgia Southern's Jimmy Tobias, lower left, ducks under leaping Davidson defender Jason Richards on a fast break Tuesday. Tobias completed the three point play after drawing a foul on the score and sinking a free throw during the Eagles 101-92 loss. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    It’s a problem that’s become all too common.
    The Georgia Southern Eagles come out strong, play a spectacular first half, and then somewhere in the final 20 minutes the momentum and the game frustratingly slips out of their grasp.
    And on Tuesday, it happened again.
    Hosting Southern Conference foe Davidson, the Eagles led by as many as 14 in the first half and were up nine at the break, but a second-half lull proved to be too costly as the Wildcats escaped Hanner Fieldhouse with a 101-92 victory, their 13th in 14 games. The loss was the fourth straight for the Eagles, who fell to 9-10 overall and 2-6 in league play.
    “There are too many games we are saying that half of our game is great and the other half isn’t,” Eagle coach Jeff Price said. “If you look at our statistics in the first half and the second half, the difference in our numbers is glaring. It’s my job to get a handle on that and find out what we have to.”
    Georgia Southern out-rebounded the Wildcats, 40-39, and had six fewer turnovers, but Davidson was unstoppable from behind the arc, hitting 14 of 27 3-point tries.
    “You’re not going to beat anybody giving up 14 3-point shots,” Price said. “We knew they could shoot coming in and we let them do that.”
    Early in the game, the Eagles looked every bit of the team that hung with Duke just two months ago. The Eagles set the tone with an early 12-0 run, which began with a Donte Gennie 3 at the 17:19 mark. After the surge, Davidson never came closer than four and trailed 55-46 at the half. But in between halves, something changed for the Eagles, who never regained their first-half swagger.
    “We lost our intensity for the first six minutes of the second half, and it costs us the game,” Price said. “You’ve got to be able to put together 40 minutes. I told them at half time that if we can come out another 20 and get that effort, we’ll be fine, but we didn’t do that.”
    Fueled by freshman guard Stephen Curry’s 19 second-half points, Davidson climbed back in the game, holding GSU without a field goal for nearly six minutes while the Eagles shot 36.7 percent from the field in the final half.
    “We gave them time to catch back up,” said GSU junior Louis Graham, whose 26 points marked a new career high. “They did and never looked back. As a team, we’ve got to find a way to come out in the second half and get the job done. The rap on us right now is we are a first-half team. You’ve got to play two good halves, and tonight we didn’t do that.”    
    Gennie and Jimmy Tobias joined Graham in double figures with 19 each, and Dwayne Foreman added 11 and a game-high 11 assists. Guard Jason Richards led Davidson (17-4, 8-1) with a game-high 32 points, while Curry had 23, Thomas Sander scored 19, and William Archambault and Boris Meno added 11 apiece.
    Following the loss, Price said he wished he’d done of better job of substituting in the second half to keep his players fresh.
    “We were really tired late in the game,” he said. “If I had to do it again, when we were walking around for the first six minutes of the second half I would have taken everybody out because we weren’t getting anything done on the floor.”
    Georgia Southern begins a two-game road trip Saturday with a 7 p.m. game at Elon.

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