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GA Southern Men move into SOCON Semifinals

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From Georgia Southern Sports Information

 

Men's Basketball Reaches SoCon Semifinals With 62-55 Win over UTC


Eagles reach the semis for the first time since 2005
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Georgia Southern Men's Basketball continued its dominance of Chattanooga by delivering a come-from-behind 62-55 win over the Mocs in the Quarterfinal round of the 2014 SoCon Tournament. The win was the Eagles' sixth-straight win over the Mocs, a streak that dates back to the 2011-12 season. With the win, Georgia Southern advances to Sunday's second SoCon Semifinal against either Wofford or The Citadel. That game can be seen live on CSS and ESPN3 starting at 8:30 p.m.

"We're a resilient bunch," said Head Coach Mark Byington. "Just when you think we're down and out our guys come back and they keep fighting. Our guys did two things that I was really proud of, they stuck together and they believed."

Georgia Southern quickly erased a 27-24 halftime deficit to tie the game with 18:53 to go. A Ronrico White old-fashioned three-point play capped a 9-2 Chattanooga spurt to put the Mocs back on top, 38-29, at the 14:20 mark. The Eagles responded, capitalizing off turnovers and empty Chattanooga possessions to score nine unanswered and knot the game once again. The Chattanooga scoring drought spanned nearly five minutes.

Z. Mason, who netted a game-high 21 points and snatched nine rebounds, gave the Mocs a bit of life with back-to-back three balls to shift the lead back to Chattanooga, 44-41, with 8:35 remaining. The game remained tight as the Mocs desperately tried to hang on to a skimpy lead. With under six minutes to play, Eagles' forward Marvin Baynham scored six straight, converting his offensive rebounds into a GSU 49-46 lead, an advantage it would never relinquish. Georgia Southern turned up its defense and made free throws down the stretch — the Eagles shot 12-of-14 from the stripe in the second half — to keep its season alive.

The teams had nearly identical box scores; they each shot just over 42 percent from the floor, 20 percent from long range, and 68 percent from charity stripe. GSU took advantage of an extra nine trips to the line with the freebies proving the difference in the final tally.

Georgia Southern had three scorers in double figures, led by Tre Bussey's 17 points. Jelani Hewitt added 12 points and although Brian Holmes didn't have a field goal, the guard netted 10-of-13 from the line in the win. Baynham pulled down a team-best eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.

Mocs' guard Gee McGhee grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and Casey Jones joined Mason in double figures with 12 points. Chattanooga held a slight 32-30 edge on the boards while GSU took advantage of 14 Mocs' turnovers.

The lead changed hands only once and neither team ever led by more than nine points.

With the win, Georgia Southern will face either Wofford or The Citadel in the SoCon Semifinals. That game starts at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night and can be seen live on CSS.

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