STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Southern men’s basketball team battled back from a 16-point deficit in the second half Monday night and came up with a massive defensive stop late to beat Louisiana 82-81 in the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Isaiah Crawley’s put-back basket with 50 seconds left gave Georgia Southern the lead over Louisiana for the first time since early in the first half. Moments later, with the season on the line, the Georgia Southern defense clamped down and Mylik Wilson’s potential game-winner rattled off the rim as time ran out.
“Everything was going against us and [the guys] showed so much toughness and courage,” Eagles’ head coach Mark Byington said after the game. “I don’t think we scored the first seven minutes of the second half. We had great energy and great belief.”
Louisiana shot lights-out in the first half and went into the break up four points. In the second half, the Cajuns picked up right where they left off by going on a 7-0 run to force an early Georgia Southern timeout. Despite falling behind by double-digits multiple times, senior captain Ike Smith said the Eagles never lost faith.
“I knew that we had it in us,” Smith explained. “We faced a lot of adversity and criticism throughout the season, but I knew the group of guys that was with me and I knew what we could do. We stayed in our circle and we have more to do, but I am proud of my team.”
With Monday’s win, the Eagles advance to the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament where they will play Georgia State. Last time these two teams met, Southern took down State 79-70 on the Panthers’ home court. It was Georgia Southern’s first win over Georgia State in Atlanta since 1992.
“I feel like this is our game,” senior David-Lee Jones Jr. said. “Coming in it’s going to be our game we played them and we know what they do. We are going to be ready for them.”
Stick with the WSAV sports team as we follow the Eagles’ journey through the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.