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Lady Eagles crush Cougars
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    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Senior guard Shawnda Atwood’s game-high 18 points, backed by a stifling Georgia Southern defense that forced the Cougars to just 11.1 percent second-half shooting, paced the Lady Eagles to a 62-39, Southern Conference victory at Charleston, Saturday afternoon at John Kresse Arena.
    Using a 34-10 scoring margin in the second half to secure the victory and the season sweep over the Cougars, the Lady Eagles improve to 16-9 overall and 12-2 in SoCon play.  College of Charleston falls to 12-12 overall and 8-6 in league action.
    With the win, Georgia Southern extends its win streak to five games, claiming its 11th win in the last 12 contests.
    “It was a total team victory,” said head coach Rusty Cram.  “That’s what amazes me about this team.  I’m just as proud of them as I can be.”
    Atwood led all scorers with a career-high tying 18 points, hitting 6-of-12 from the field and going 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. Junior guard Ashley Melson (Newnan, Ga.) followed with 13 points on 6-of-15 field-goal shooting, and pulled down six rebounds.  Sophomore forward J’Lisia Ogburn (Dublin, Ga.) pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, which is one short of tying her career-high.
    Charleston was led by Jill Furstenburg with 12 points and was one of three on the team to pull down eight rebounds on the day.
    “I thought the whole key to the game in the second half was the defense,” said Cram.  “I thought the defense set the tone.  My concern at halftime was that we were playing College of Charleston’s game.  We were not playing Georgia Southern (basketball).  We were letting them take it to us on both ends of the floor.  They were playing much harder, much more intense.”
    “We challenged our girls, the second half, to make them play Georgia Southern and remember who were.  And I thought that’s what we did in the second half.”
    Down by just one point at halftime (29-28), Georgia Southern exploded in the second half, opening up with a 6-1 scoring run to take a 34-30 lead before Charleston called a time out with 16:09 on the clock.
    Sparked by Atwood’s (Pensacola, Fla.) free-throw and a layup by Ogburn, the Lady Eagles continued the run (15-1) adding nine unanswered points to take a 13-point, 43-30 lead with 12:35 remaining in the game.
    Over the next six minutes, the Cougars went without a field goal, only adding points from the free-throw line, while Georgia Southern widened the gap to 17 points 37-54 with 6:12 remaining.
    The Georgia Southern defense forced nine Charleston turnovers during the second half, converting them into 12 points, and with a solid outing both on offense and defense, the Lady Eagles secured the win.
    The first half was a deadlock in almost every category, as evidenced by seven ties and eight lead changes.  Both teams pulled down 20 rebounds, each.  The Cougars held a slight edge in field goal shooting, hitting 12-of-32 (.375) from the field, compared to GSU’s 11-of-30 (.367) field goal shooting.
    Twenty-four of Georgia Southern’s points came from the paint as part of a total 23-of-55 (.418) field-goal shooting effort.  Charleston shot only 25.4 percent (15-of-59) from the field.
    Georgia Southern will conclude its four-game road trip as it faces Western Carolina, Saturday, Feb. 23.  Tip-off between the Lady Eagles and Catamounts is slated for 12:30 p.m. at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C.  The game will be televised on SportSouth.