Sharpshooting Lady Eagles Remain Perfect at Home
STATESBORO, Ga. - Junior guard Ashley Melson netted a game-high 17 points behind the team’s 46.7 percent field-goal shooting as the Georgia Southern women’s basketball team secured a 70-51 Southern Conference victory over Elon, Monday evening, at Hanner Fieldhouse.
With the win, Georgia Southern improves to 13-9 overall and 9-2 in SoCon play, and extends the home win streak to 10 games as the Lady Eagles remain undefeated at home. The record for most consecutive wins at Hanner is 19 games, spanning from Feb. 1981 to Dec. 1982.
Elon falls to 7-16 overall and 2-9 in the conference, marking its second consecutive loss.
Melson (Newnan, Ga.) led all scorers, shooting 8-of-9 from the field in her second-best shooting game of the season. Sophomore forward Jessica Geiger (Duluth, Ga.) was close behind with a career-high 14 points. She hit 4-of-11 of her field goal attempts, including a pair of triples and a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Senior guard Shawnda Atwood (Pensacola, Fla.) pulled down a game- and season-high 11 rebounds to add to her four points.
Georgia Southern’s depth proved to be as much of a factor as was the team’s overall shooting, with the bench backing up game- and career-highs from Melson and Geiger. The Lady Eagles outscored the Phoenix 27-18 in bench points.
“When you’re playing as deep as we do for nine, 10, 11 people, you’re going to have some chemistry that’s just not right,” said head coach Rusty Cram. “And that’s what we’ve got to find on that given night when it’s not right. Then we’ve got to make it right by getting certain people in the ball game. Sometimes it’s Tiffany Brown coming in and scoring 24; maybe (Ashley) Melson at 17; (Jessica) Geiger; Carolyn (Whitney) had  last Saturday. So who’s going to make that chemistry go for us on a given night? That’s the luxury of depth.”
In first-half action, Geiger’s three-pointer sparked an early 8-0 scoring run to start the game. It took Elon the next 10 minutes to slowly chip away at the GSU lead, and after an 8-2 Elon scoring run which included a pair of three-pointers by Tierra Bumbrey and Tiffany Davis, the Phoenix took its first and only lead (20-19) from the charity stripe.
Urysla Cotton’s jumper with 6:48 remaining in the first gave the Phoenix its largest lead, 22-19, before the Lady Eagles exploded on offense.
In the remaining six minutes, Georgia Southern went on a 21-3 scoring run that saw Melson knock down five of the team’s final nine field goals. Freshman Jamie Navarro (Naples, Fla.) added two consecutive three-pointers during the stretch as part of her season-high tying, six-point performance.
Georgia Southern went into the locker room with a 40-25 lead, thanks in part to a 58.7 percent outing from the field, hitting 17-of-29 attempts, including 6-of-9 from downtown. Elon finished the half shooting 10-of-23 (.435) from the field.
Georgia Southern held on to its lead for the remainder of the game, despite Elon’s mid-half rally. The Phoenix slowly chipped away at the 15-point, first-half deficit and closed the gap to six points on two occasions. A three-pointer by Davis and a jumper by Cotton put the Phoenix to within six points (46-40) with 12:25 remaining in the game. Two minutes later, after Chequilla Jessie (Sanford, Fla.) made a layup, Kitara McMoore hit a pair of free-throws to close the gap again to six points (48-42). But that was as close as the visiting team could get for the remainder of the game.
At the 10-minute mark, Georgia Southern began building up a 21-point lead using a 15-3 scoring run that gave the Lady Eagles a 66-45 advantage and the insurance down the stretch to claim the victory and the season sweep of the Phoenix.
“These kids are just getting more and more confidence every time we go out,” said head coach Rusty Cram. “What you’re seeing right now is the kids are starting to finally understand the mind of the offense because they’re starting to read what the defense is giving them. If they’re taking away one look, we’ve got the next look. If they take that away, we’ve got the next option. The kids are really starting to pick up on that and get more and more confidence.”
Georgia Southern edged the Phoenix in the rebounds category, 31-28, the first time it has led that category since a one-rebound advantage (43-42) over Western Carolina (Jan. 26).
Sophomore guard Carolyn Whitney paced the team with seven assists and three steals.
Kitara McMoore paced Elon with 12 points, followed by Tiffany Davis with 11.
The Lady Eagles will next prepare for a four-game road trip starting Saturday (Feb. 9) at Wofford. Tip-off against the Terriers is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Benjamin Johnson Arena in Spartanburg, S.C.
- Category: Women's Basketball
- Published on Monday, 04 February 2008 00:21