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Lady Eagles beat Wofford for third straight win
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    There were less than 30 seconds remaining, the shot clock was inching toward zero and a rallying Wofford team was just three points away from tying the game. Carolyn Whitney had no trouble staying calm.
    She’d hit 3-pointers from that spot several times already during practice this week, so one more was no big deal for Georgia Southern’s sophomore point guard. With 23 second left, Whitney nailed the shot, giving the Eagles a comfortable lead and providing the final margin in a 60-54 win over the much-improved Terriers Saturday afternoon at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    No doubt Whitney’s basket was crucial, but GSU coach Rusty Cram felt Ashley Rivens’ dive after a loose ball a few plays earlier helped put the home team in a position to succeed.
    “Had (Rivens) not got down here and mixed it up on the floor, we might not have had that shot,” he said. “Good things happen when you hustle.”
    The victory marked the Eagles’ (8-8, 4-1 Southern Conference) season-high third-consecutive win and 12th straight over the Terriers (9-6, 2-2), who haven’t topped GSU since the 2002 SoCon tournament. Georgia Southern remained perfect at home, improving to 5-0 at Hanner this season.
    Down one at the break, the Eagles began the final period with an 11-2 surge, including nine straight points to open the half. Whitney scored seven in a row during that span, and by the 9:12 mark, Georgia Southern was up by14 after an up-and-under by Tiffany Brown, back to-back 3s by Rivens and Brown and a Shawnda Atwood jumper.
     Wofford countered with a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to three at 57-54 with less than two minutes to play. But Whitney put the game away with her huge 3, the Terriers failed to sink a layup on their ensuing possession and their prayer at the buzzer fell well short of the rim to seal the GSU win.
    “We weren’t running our offense the way we were supposed to and rushing in the first half,” said Brown, whose game-high 20 points off the bench left the senior one shy of her 1,000 career point. “But in the second half we settled down and got open shots.”
    Whitney (10 points) was the only other Eagle to reached double figures, while Atwood scored six and posted team-highs in rebounds (nine), assists (four) and steals (four). The Terriers, who came to Statesboro with wins in six of their last seven games, were led by Liz Miller and Kelsi Koenig with 14 points apiece.    
    Georgia Southern stayed close in the first half despite missing 21 of its first 26 shots, including eight in a row to open the game as Wofford jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The Terriers put up nine unanswered points to go up by five after Millers’ 3 two minutes before the half. The Eagles made up the deficit quickly as Rivens hit a 3 from the left wing and Brown sank a jumper. GSU trailed 29-28 at the break.
    “Wofford did a great job tonight,” Cram said. “They came out the first half and disrupted our offense. They did their homework and gave us some looks we haven’t seen all year. It took us a while to get adjusted to that.
    “I didn’t feel like the (starters) were focused very hard or playing intense. They were just going through the motions instead of attacking. We brought in that next five a couple of minutes into the ballgame, and they got us right back into it.”
    The Eagles continue their homestand Monday, hosting Furman at 7 p.m.
Notes: Georgia Southern’s assistant football coaches brought a large contingent of recruits and their families through Hanner during the game. National Signing Day is Feb. 6….Saturday’s matchup was Wofford coach Edgar Farmer’s 100th career game…Georgia Southern’s bench outscored Wofford’s 36-24, but the Terriers held an advantage in rebounds (47-43) and in the paint (24-16).

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