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Lady Eagles stay perfect at home
020208 BKW GSU 1
Georgia Southern guard Carolyn Whitney, left, beats UNC Greensboro's Lakiah Hyson to a loose ball to help the Lady Eagles maintain possession near the end of Saturday's game at Hanner Fieldhouse. Whitney hit four of five three-point shots in the 68-57 Lady Eagle victory.
    Make that 9-0.
    The Georgia Southern women stretched their home-winning streak to nine games and remained perfect at Hanner Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon, downing Southern Conference rival UNC-Greensboro 68-57.
    With the win, the Eagles improved to 8-2 in league play (12-9 overall) and remained in a two-way tie with Western Carolina for second place in the conference standings. The nine straight victories at Hanner tied the longest home-winning streak in five years for Georgia Southern, which has won seven of its last eight.
    “Everybody knows we’re undefeated at home — they’re not dumb — and they need to beat us for seeding later on,” Eagle coach Rusty Cram said. “It’s a feather in their cap. We can’t get complacent. They’ve got to play just like it’s the conference championship every time we play because teams are going to treat it that way against us.”
    With a game-high 24 points from senior Tiffany Brown and a season-best 16 from sophomore Carolyn Whitney, Georgia Southern completed its season sweep of UNCG (5-16, 3-7), which had won two straight prior to Saturday.
    Whitney carried the Eagles early, scoring 11 of GSU’s first 12 points, including nine on a trio of 3s. She was the only Eagle to hit a field goal in the first 9:14, a span that snapped when Brown stole the ball and sank a layup to give GSU a 16-12 lead. Greensboro then put up five straight points to go ahead by one, but Georgia Southern pulled away with a 15-5 run late in the first half. UNCG never led again.
    Whitney scored 14 in the first half, hitting 4 of 5 from 3-point land.
    “Everyone was leaving her open, and she was lighting it up in the beginning,” Brown said. “That’s what got us sparked.”
    The Eagles led by eight at the break and went ahead by 10 when Shawnda Atwood opened the first half with a quick layup. UNCG countered with six consecutive points to cut the lead to four, but GSU dominated the rest of the way behind Brown’s 16 second-half points.
    “We just had to keep coming because we knew Greensboro would come out with intensity,” Brown said. “They don’t ever quit.”
    The Eagles weren’t happy about finishing the game on the wrong end of a 38-27 rebound discrepancy, but they held a commanding 22-9 edge in the turnover department. The nine turnovers were a season-low for the Eagles while the 27 board tied the season-worst.
    “(The turnover ratio) was major because we got out-rebounded tonight,” Cram said. “But we beat them substantially in other areas which offset it.
    “Once they started pressuring the ball on the perimeter, we were getting looks underneath, which is what we wanted. We were able to read them at times and make them pay for what they were trying to do. Other times we didn’t capitalize on it, but thank goodness we won the war overall.”
    The women host Elon for a Monday night doubleheader before beginning a four-game road trip Saturday at Wofford.

Notes: The Eagles hit seven 3s in the first half and nine for the game, which tied a season-high…GSU’s longest home-winning streak was 19 games from February 1981 – December 1982…Junior Ashley Rivens had a game-high six steals…Jasmine Dixon (13) and Lakiah Hyson (11) led the Spartans in scoring.

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