Men's Basketball Picks Up Win in Home Opener
STATESBORO, Ga. - Just a few days after Georgia Southern freshman Eric Ferguson (Statesboro, Ga.) put up 26 points in his collegiate debut, his teammate Jelani Hewitt (Oakland Park, Fla.) lit up the scoreboard for 20 of his 28 points in the second half as the Eagles defeated Carver College 91-83 in Hanner Fieldhouse on Monday night. Hewitt went 7-9 in the second period, hitting three treys and adding three free throws. He led three other Eagles in double figures with senior Rory Spencer (Atlanta, Ga.) posting 18 points, Ferguson with 14 and Ben Drayton III (St. Marys, Ga.) with 12.
Spencer scored 10 of his 18 points in the first half and recorded six blocked shots on the night, tying a Georgia Southern single-game record. He also tied his own career-best with nine rebounds for the game-high total. James Barbee had 21 points for the Cougars, hitting 8-14 from the field while dishing out five assists and grabbing five steals.
"He (Jelani) played really well in the second half," said Coach Charlton "C.Y." Young. "He made some great decisions in the second half. He did a good job of attacking the paint for us and creating some opportunities. I was excited to see his growth. It was impressive that he stepped up in the moment of truth and made some plays. This freshman class is just really good."
Georgia Southern had a hard time putting away Carver, whose relentless energy kept the game close. Though the score was never tied and the Eagles never gave up the lead, the 40-36 halftime score was indicative of the Cougars' effort. The Eagles led by as many as 13 in the second half, but Carver was focused until the end, cutting the lead down to six twice within in the final minute.
"As a team, you see the mistakes we made, the things that happen because of youth and experience that shouldn't happen. We are just going to have to find patience with a very, very young group. We are getting better in terms of leadership. I was really proud of Rory and Ben, their leadership and the way they stepped up tonight. We'll see this team get better half by half. For most of these guys on the team, it's only their second collegiate game."
Hewitt and Spencer combined for 10 of the Eagles first 15 points of the game with freshman Marvin Baynham (Miami, Fla.) and Tré Bussey (Lithia Springs, Ga.) each adding a basket. The Eagles led by 11 at the 13:05 mark, its largest margin of the first half, when Carver had a 9-2 run to pull within four points. A three pointer by Demetrius Baldwin and jumper by Marcus Fulks cut the Georgia Southern lead to an uncomfortable 19-18.
Over the next three minutes Georgia Southern added seven points off five free throws and a Ferguson dunk to take the lead back to five. Another dunk by Ferguson and field goals by Hewitt and Drayton put the Eagles up 10, 32-22, with just under six minutes to play in the half. Carver kept hanging around, though, and Eagles made only two field goals to the Cougars five to keep the Carver in the game.
Through the first seven minutes in the second half, five different Eagles scored six baskets, but the Cougars matched GSU basket for basket. A jumper by Bernard Parks and then a steal and a layup by James Barbee made the score 51-50, Georgia Southern. Hewitt's first scoring spree couldn't have been any more timely with four field goals, including a three, to put the Eagles up by five, 62-57.
Bussey and Spencer added jumpers to counter a pair of free throws by Joseph Comer and a trey by Nicholas Hood. The Georgia Southern lead went back to double digits after Drayton hit two baskets and Ferguson kept the lead at 10, 72-62, with a quick jumper at the 6:31 mark of the second half. Carver and Georgia Southern traded points with jumpers by the Cougars's Barbee, Hood and Fulks. Spencer, Ferguson and Baynham connected on free throws to make the score 77-67 before Hewitt went on his second scoring spree.
In 97 seconds, Hewitt rattled off eight points coming off a jumper, three pointer and three free throws to give the Eagles their largest lead of the night, 13 points, 85-72. Carver, however, still did not give up. A 7-0 Cougar run cut the lead to six with a minute left in the game. Carver put Drayton at the line and he converted both with 28 seconds left to play. Barbee and Hood sandwiched jumpers between dunks by Spencer and Baynham to finish out the scoring and an Eagle win.
Single-game tickets are available for Georgia Southern's next home game Thursday against Reinhardt in Hanner Fieldhouse. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Single-game tickets are available at the ticket windows at Hanner Fieldhouse one hour prior to tip-off and are $8 for adults and $4 for youth. Fans may also purchase a flex plan - five tickets for $25 - which allows tickets to be used for either men's or women's games. Fans may use all five tickets at one game or split them between games.
Fans can follow the Eagles on GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com or get short updates on facebook.com/GSAthletics or twitter.com/GSAthletics. For in-game scoring, visit twitter.com/GSScores or follow live stats by clicking on the "live stats" link in the schedule section at the bottom of the athletics website www.GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com.
- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Monday, 15 November 2010 22:41