STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – Anita Howard has been less than impressed with how her Georgia Southern Eagles have opened games recently and challenged them to do better.
“I said we always start off slow and then the third quarter we come out quick and all cylinders,” Howard said. “So I said let’s not watch the game, let’s make the game.”
Georgia Southern’s women’s team heeded their head coach’s words, seizing a 29-18 lead by the end of the first quarter and holding on to it for a 77-69 win.
“I’m really pleased at how we came out in the first quarter,” Howard said.
Freshman Daeja Holmes keyed that first quarter run, scoring all seven of her points for the night consecutively in the span of a minute. The player that Howard calls “Hollywood” made up most of a 9-0 run that pushed Georgia Southern’s lead to 18, the Eagles’ largest of the game.
Holmes had plenty of help from senior Tatum Barber, who scored a season-high 17 points and added eight rebounds.
“I feel really good,” Barber said after the game. “It’s always fun playing State and knowing that we beat them last year, both there and here. Having a kind of new team it was exciting it was a really fun game.”
Georgia State mounted a fourth-quarter comeback behind forward Taylor Hosendove, who racked up 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go with 12 rebounds.
A 13-3 run from the Panthers that took up roughly four minutes of the final quarter brought them back to within two points with just under two minutes to go. It took an and-one from Barber and a stop on the next defensive possession to close the game out.
The men’s basketball team could not add a win of their own, losing 79-75 to Georgia State in Atlanta despite leading for more than half the game.
Georgia State guard Justin Roberts hit a jumper with 40 seconds left in regulation to put the Panthers ahead for good. The two rivals had traded the lead five times in the last four minutes prior to that jump shot.
Trips to the free throw line set the Panthers apart; Georgia State hit 17-of-22 foul shots, while Georgia Southern only got to the line seven times, converting six of those attempts.
Zack Bryant led the Eagles with 21 points and junior Gedi Juozapaitis chipped in 17. Panther forward Eliel Nsoseme, the Sun Belt leader in rebounding, grabbed 12 of them to go along with 14 points.
Both the men’s and women’s teams play again on Saturday. The women tip off in Atlanta at 2 p.m. ET while the men will host Georgia State at Hanner at 3 p.m.