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Lady Eagles stymie Charleston
GSU wins fifht straight
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Georgia Southern guard Shawnda Atwood, bottom, fights off College of Charleston's Ericka Williams to keep the ball in play during Saturday's game at Hanner Fieldhouse. The Eagles won 64-47, holding the Cougars to their low point total of the season. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Georgia Southern had hoped to contain College of Charleston junior guard Jill Furstenburg, the Southern Conference’s second-leading scorer and the reigning league player of the week.
    Holding her scoreless was even better.
    The Eagles put together an outstanding defensive performance to shut down Furstenburg and the Cougars 64-47 Saturday afternoon at Hanner Fieldhouse and take over sole possession of second place in the league standings.
    Along with a suffocating defense, Georgia Southern (10-8, 6-1) used a dominating first-half surge and withstood several Cougar rallies en route to its season-high fifth-straight win. The Eagles handed the Cougars (9-8, 5-2) their first loss in five games and 13th defeat in 14 visits to Statesboro. GSU is perfect at home this season (7-0).
    “We were really keying on (Furstenburg),” said Georgia Southern forward Jessica Geiger, one of three Eagles in double figures. “We knew we had to take away her shot, force her to the sidelines and not let her get comfortable.”
    Georgia Southern led by five at the break and knocked down 3-pointers to maintain an ample lead when Charleston came within three or four points three times in the second half. The Eagles finished with eight 3s, one shy of their season high. Charleston pulled within four with 7:23 to go before GSU closed the game with a decisive 18-5 run.
    The Eagles held Charleston to season-worst outings for field goals (22.8 percent, 13 of 57) and 3-pointers (7.7 percent, 1 of 13). The Cougars hit just two baskets in the first 15:37 and missed 19 of their first 21 tries.
    “When you’ve got Shawda Atwood, Ashley Rivens and Nya Daley that we can just throw on one person and rotate them through — it just absolutely wears people out,” Cram said. “They are such good defenders, and they did a great job on (Furstenburg) tonight.”
    Tiffany Brown led the Eagles with a game-high 14 points off the bench, and Geiger (11) and Atwood (10) also reached double figures for GSU, which shot 41.2 for the game. Georgia Southern coach Rusty Cram was proud with his team’s “wise” shot selection.
    “How do you not feel good about being 6-1?” he said. “What a turnaround.”
    Charleston jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but never led again as Georgia Southern roared back with 18 unanswered points and took a 15-point lead 5:22 before the break after a 3 by Geiger, who had 10 points in the first half.
    “Something just clicked as soon as we hit that first shot,” Geiger said of the rally, which commenced with an Atwood 3.
    Charleston eventually woke up, closing the period with a 10-2 run to its cut the deficit to 28-23 by halftime. The Cougars were led by Nikki Williams (13 points, 10 rebounds), Erika Smith (11) and Deidra Jones (10).
    “We just weren’t ready to play right off the bat for some reason,” Cram said. “Once we got into the flow of our offense and saw what they were giving us, we got some good looks at the basket and knocked some shots down.”
    Georgia Southern is off until next Saturday when the Eagles host Western Carolina in a doubleheader beginning at 5 pm.
    “It’s big to be 6-1 and almost through the first half of conference play,” Geiger said. “With this winning streak, it’s just boosting our confidence and helping us play a whole lot better.”
Notes: Prior to Saturday, the Cougars held three straight opponents to less than 45 points and 30 percent shooting…GSU honored Brown before the game for scoring her 1,000th career point Monday…The Eagles had 13 turnovers to Charleston’s 19, but the Cougars won the rebounding battle 47-38. GSU had seven blocks while CofC had none…Another win at Hanner was crucial for the Eagles, who have a stretch of four-straight conference road games in mid-February. “Taking care of these at home is going to be huge,” Cram said.  

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