Freshman Jaiden Hamilton scored a career-high 25 points to help Georgia Southern women's basketball snap a three-game slide with an 80-67 Sun Belt Conference victory over visiting Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon in the program's annual Pack the House in Pink game at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Eagles matched last year's overall win total by improving to 7-15, while moving to 4-7 in league play. Arkansas State tell to 9-13 overall and 6-5 in the Sun Belt with the loss. It was Georgia Southern's second win over the Red Wolves since joining the league in 2014-15 and also halted a five-game slide to Arkansas State.
Georgia Southern shot 53% from the field in the first quarter to build a three-point, 20-17 lead at the end of the period. Arkansas State tied things up early in the second period, but Georgia Southern finished the period on a 16-6 run to take a 10-point lead into the break, 39-29.
In the third period, the Eagles sprinted out to a 18-2 run over the first five and a half minutes, building a 57-31 lead with 4:28 left to go in the period. After that, Arkansas State fought back, getting as close as eight points, but Hamilton scored 10 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to help stave off the comeback and secure the win.
Hamilton was joined in double figures by Tatum Barber (14 points) on teh day, while Alexis Brown added eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Jireh Washington's 20 points led Arkansas State, while Morgan Wallace added 17 points.
Eagle of the Game
Hamilton finished the game 8-for-14 from the field, including 7-of-12 from three-point range, in putting up her first 20+ point performance as an Eagle. She also finished with a career-high nine rebounds. The seven three-pointers are one shy of the school record of eight.
With 4:20 left to go in the fourth quarter, Arkansas State closed the Eagle gap to eight, 67-59, but Hamilton got behind the defense for a fastbreak layup to push the lead back to 10. On the next possession, Washington scored to cut the lead back to eight, but Hamilton answered again by drilling a three-pointer to push the lead back to 11, 72-61, with 2:27 left and the Red Wolves never seriously threatened afterwards.
Stat of the Game
Georgia Southern outrebounded Arkansas State by a 55-27 margin, and enjoyed a 16-2 edge in points in the paint. It is the fourth time this season the Eagles have outrebounded an opponent by 20 or more.
Head Coach Anita Howard on the keys to the game
"We knew Arkansas State's best quarter was the third. We wanted to make sure we came out and competed in that quarter. In the locker room, we talked about this being our Pink game, and what it means. [Honorary coach and cancer survivor] Becky Wolfe talked to our team in the locker room and really gave the ladies an up close and personal view of what we were fighting for. I just reminded them of that. We kinda let up a little bit after that [third quarter run], but I told them that we don't have time to give this game away."
On the performance of Jaiden Hamilton
"She's the ticket. I think she just showed why y'all need to come out and buy some tickets, come and see us because we are trying to turn this program around. She and I had a meeting yesterday, and I asked her when her last 20 point game was. She said 'In high school.' I asked, 'Can you get me one tomorrow?' And she did. She told me at the time out, 'I told you I could do it."
Freshman Jaiden Hamilton
On her career-high game against the Red Wolves
"When we were watching film, she [Coach Howard] said that I score better when I rebound, when I crash really hard. So that was my main goal today, just to crash hard and do what she asked."
Georgia Southern hits the road for a Sun Belt Conference swing through Louisiana, beginning with a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday, Feb. 13, at UL Monroe.