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Lady Eagles roast Jacksonville State
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    Georgia Southern’s offense was having trouble finding the basket, then Jessica Geiger got loose.
    The sophomore forward nailed a huge 3-pointer, point guard Carolyn Whitney followed up with a trey of her own and the Eagles never trailed again. The back-to-back 3s ignited a 14-4 GSU run late in the first half Monday at Hanner Fieldhouse and helped lift the Eagles to a 63-44 win over Jacksonville State.
    “That opened a couple of more players up, and we starting knocking down shots to get the pace going,” said senior guard Shawnda Atwood, who capped the surge with a long jumper 47 seconds before the break to give Georgia Southern a 27-19 advantage at the half.
    Atwood finished with a game-high 16 points, which tied her season best, and junior guard Ashley Melson turned in her first-career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the Eagles home opener.
    “Shawnda had a great game, and Carolyn ran her floor pretty good at point guard,” GSU coach Rusty Cram said. “Ashley Melson played her butt off, and I’m very proud of her for that.”
    Cram had several other things to be happy about, including his team’s dominating performance on the board and ability to limit turnovers. The Eagles, who improved to 2-2 on the year, out-rebounded the Gamecocks 51-35 and held a 24-11 edge on the offensive glass. GSU’s 51 rebounds were 14 more than its average entering the game, and its 11 turnovers were a season low.
    Nine different players scored for Georgia Southern, which had 20 points from its bench.
    “We just had a lot of people stepping up and playing well tonight,” Cram said.
    The Eagles successfully contained two of the Gamecocks’ top scorers, holding guard Eren McMichael to a single 3-pointer and forward Jolie Efezokhae to 10 points.
    The Eagles carried the momentum of the late first-half rally into the final 20 minutes, using their new motion offense to wear down the Gamecocks (1-3), who trailed by double digits most of the second half. Whitney’s layup with 6:52 remaining was the start of 10 straight unanswered points by the Eagles, who took a 26-point edge on a Nya Daley layup with 4:14 to play.
    “Our motion offense does wonders, especially in the last 10 minutes of the game,” Atwood said. “You start to see the open back-door cuts and pop-ups from the foul line because the defense starts getting tired. It opens a lot more shots for us.”
    Georgia Southern will fly to Texas today and resume play this weekend in tournament in San Antonio, facing Arkansas on Friday and UT San Antonio on Saturday.
    “It’s going to be tough, but it’s good to get a win at home to carry out there and get us a little bit more confidence,” Cram said. “We’ll have to play well in both of those games to have a shot.”
    The Eagles then begin Southern Conference play Thursday, Nov. 29 at Davidson and return home Saturday, Dec. 1 to host USC Upstate in a noon game.
Note: Guard Tiffany Brown and forward Christa Waterman won’t make the trip to Texas and are slated to return to the team for the Davidson game. The seniors were suspended for the first six games of the season after violating undisclosed team rules.