The Georgia Southern Lady Eagles withstood a game that saw 14 lead changes and overcame a late second half deficit to defeat Chattanooga in overtime by a score of 77-69 Saturday afternoon at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The win gave Georgia Southern (3-8, 1-2 Southern Conference) its first conference win of the season and avenged a loss at the hands of the Lady Mocs (3-7, 1-2) two weeks ago in Chattanooga.
"Our offense was really clicking today," said GSU coach Rusty Cram. "Chattanooga isn’t that deep right now. We ran our motion offense and kind of wore them down and then made the shots when we had to."
Hanging on to a three point lead with just seconds remaining in regulation, the Lady Eagles locked down on defense, but Chattanooga’s Kylie Lambert found just enough space to get off a shot and drained the game-tying 3-pointer with just 0.2 seconds remaining to force overtime.
A layup by Whitney Hood — who led all scorers with 22 points — gave the Mocs the early lead in the extra period, but Georgia Southern bounced back again.
Mimi Dubose tied the game once more with a short jumper and Samantha Williams’ 3 from the top of the key gave the Eagles a lead that they never relinquished.
Jamie Navarro (13 points) and Krista Tate (11) made clutch free throws down the stretch to seal away the win and join Dubose, Logan Youngblood and Meredith Frye in double-digit scoring.
"Today was a great team effort and that’s what I really love about this win," said Cram. "Mimi had a great first half, but we knew that Chattanooga wasn’t going to let her do that in the second half. We were able to get some other girls to step up and get those points for us down the stretch.
"Logan is a great example of that. She’s a fifth-year senior and has made some big shots for us late in games two games in a row. That’s why she got today’s game ball."
Trailing 56-50 with 6:29 to play, the Eagles began their comeback.
Youngblood hit a jumper and both Tate and Frye connected on a pair of free throws to knot the game at 56-56.
Chattanooga edged ahead once more at the 2:14 mark on a layup by Hood, but a Youngblood jumper with just under a minute to go gave the Eagles a 61-60 advantage.
A pair of free throws by Frye with 23 seconds on the clock pushed the lead to 63-60 before Lambert’s heroics sent the game to overtime.
Saturday’s game was just another thriller in the long line of nail-biters that the Eagles and Mocs have battled out recently.
As the preeminent force of the SoCon for much of the last decade, Chattanooga has had its way with most teams, but the Eagles have always been a thorn in its side.
The Mocs are down this season, but that didn’t stop the fireworks from flying once again at Hanner.
"We always want to be at our best for Chattanooga," said Cram. "We have to go there for the conference tournament and they’re usually one of the best teams we face each year."
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.