'I don’t like losing'
Georgia Southern women's basketball unable to overcome first quarter deficit
STATESBORO — Georgia Southern won the opening jump ball. The Eagles set up their offense and worked it around a few times. Mya Burns dribbled in and picked up an offensive foul. Appalachian State went right down and drained an uncontested three-pointer. Burns made up for her error by hitting her own long ball.
Then the Mountaineers went on a 13-2 run that set the tone for the rest of the night.
The deficit was too much for the home team to overcome, falling to App State 70-58 to split the weekend series.
“They came out that first quarter ready to play,” GS acting head coach Chris Straker said. “Tonight we didn’t do a good job of defending the three point line, we probably pinched in a little bit more than we should have done and that let up too many uncontested shots.”
Less than 24 hours removed from defeating the Mountaineers by more than 30 points, the Eagles were lost. Shots that worked Friday rimmed out. The defensive intensity for GS wasn’t there and App State took advantage, shooting 42% from the field in the first half.
Three Mountaineers scored 12 or more points, led by Brooke Bigott’s 17 point outing.
On the other sideline was a more balanced, but reserved shooting effort. Tatum Barber was again brilliant from long-range, finishing with a team-high 16 points. A’Tyanna Gaulden had 10 points and the rest of the Eagles struggled to find an offensive rhythm.
“We have to be more engaged,” Gaulden said. “I don’t think they were doing anything to throw us off. I think they just came in here with a higher intensity than we did.”
Unlike Friday night, App State found ways to break GS’ press and create offensive opportunities. The Mountaineers still only shot 37% from the field, but they doubled GS’ made three pointers 12-6.
“Their energy led to them being more intense on defense and hitting more and better shots,” Burns said. “They just came out with a vengeance after we beat them yesterday. We talked about coming out with the same energy (as last night) but we just let it slip.”
Unlike Friday night, GS had to claw and work hard for shots. They finished the night shooting 38% and only had seven assists. The swagger and “respect us” mentality that they played with in game one wasn’t there in game two.
But the Eagles aren’t letting one loss in an 18-game conference schedule define them, just like they didn’t let one win define the season.
“We can’t look back on this game,” Gaulden said. “We just have to keep getting better. This game is just going to get us hype for the rest of the games. We’ll have to get another one back to get on track. I don’t like losing. None of my teammates should like losing. We’re coming for Troy.”
Other news and notes
Midway through the final quarter, Gaulden went down with a left leg injury and pulled herself out of the game.
“I tore my meniscus twice when I was at Arkansas so I hit my fat pad and that kind of tweaked it,” Gaulden said, assuring that she felt fine.
GS allowed 25 first quarter points for just the second time this season (Chattanooga, Dec. 20).
Straker said that the first frame set the tone for how the game would go.
“Our defense wasn’t there in the first quarter tonight, but it picked up in the third. Our offense slipped off. We have to find a way to put it all together.”
Out of town brief
In Boone, the GS men were able to tie the game at 71 with just over a minute left, but were unable to finish, falling to the Mountaineers 77-71.
Eric Boone and Elijah McCadden each tallied 14 points. Gedi Juozapaitis had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Eagles made 11 3-pointers, a season-high with 10 of them coming in the first half. GS shot 1-for-11 from long range in the second half.
At 2-2 in Sun Belt play, the women’s basketball team will head to Troy for a two game series with the Trojans beginning Friday night at 7 p.m. Eastern. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
At 1-3 in conference, the men’s team will host Troy with game one Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern as the Eagles look to break a 2-game skid.