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Lady Eagles have showdown with Charleston
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    Georgia Southern women’s basketball team is certainly moving in the right direction, and Lady Eagle coach Rusty Cram is doing his best to ensure his players won’t get complacent with their recent success.
    He put them through a rigorous week of practice and is hoping the benefits will be tangible during the final month and a half of the season.
    “We’ve won a few in a row, but we are still not playing a great brand of basketball yet — or to my liking anyway,” Cram said prior to Friday afternoon’s workout. “We are showing signs of it, but we aren’t playing consistent for those 40 minutes. Our deal as coaches is to make them understand we’ve got a long way to go. We can’t revel in what happened yesterday. We’ve got to take care of what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
    Next up for Georgia Southern (9-8, 5-1) is a visit from the College of Charleston (9-7, 5-1), which is knotted with the Eagles in a two-way tie for second place in the Southern Conference standings. The teams — both riding season-high four-game winning streaks — meet today at 3 p.m. in Hanner Fieldhouse where the Eagles have yet to lose a game this season (6-0).
    GSU’s won five straight SoCon conference games since dropping its conference opener at Davidson in November. Charleston’s only league loss also came against the Wildcats, and both team’s SoCon wins have come against the same opponents — Appalachian State, Wofford, Elon, Furman and UNC Greensboro.
    On paper, the teams are nearly identical in almost every statistically category with the biggest discrepancy in scoring defense. The Cougars lead the league in that category, allowing a mere 46 points a game against league opponents. GSU isn’t far behind, giving up 53.8 points a contest.
    “I think it’s just going to come down to who handles each other’s pressure and who knocks shots down because you can’t get two more evenly balanced teams,” Cram said. “It’s going to be a war.”
    The Cougars favor an open and fast-break style and are capable of pounding the ball inside.
    “We’ve been working on transition defense, trying to get back and stop the penetration,” GSU senior Shawnda Atwood said. “It’s always a close and aggressive game, so it’s going to be a show. We definitely want to get out early and show them we came to win, especially in our house.”
    Charleston has won just once in 13 trips to Statesboro — a one-point victory last season to halt the Eagles’ four-game wining streak. The Cougars are coached by Nancy Wilson, whose 26-year career includes a 10-year stint at South Carolina and two years in the professional ranks.
    “She knows how to coach the game of basketball and is very good at what she does,” Cram said. “She’s done a magnificent job revamping them.”

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