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Eagles dominated Cajuns, defeated by Troy


January 19, 2015

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    How much fun was that? It had been a while since Eagle Nation showed up in those kinds of numbers for a Georgia Southern basketball game.
    And the Eagles delivered. Southern handed Louisiana-Lafayette its first conference loss of the season in front of a capacity Hanner Fieldhouse crowd of 4,325 Thursday night by a score of 78-70.
    The Ragin’ Cajuns scored the game’s first basket to take a 2-0 lead, but never led again. The Eagles extended their lead to as many as 13 late in the first half, but allowed ULL back in it to keep things interesting in the second half.
    Mike Hughes led the way for Southern with 18 points while Jelani Hewitt added 17. Curtis Diamond scored 12, Angel Matias had 11, and Eric Ferguson (9) was one point away from making it five Eagles in double figures.
    But let’s get back to that crowd. Last time Hanner was sold out was 2009 and, unfortunately, the majority of that crowd wasn’t there to see the Eagles. Stephen Curry was in town with his Davidson Wildcats fresh off a run to the Elite Eight.
    Fans were turned away at the door Thursday night. I hate it that some folks who wanted to be there were not able to be, but that’s a really good problem to have. I would love to have that same problem for every home game left on the schedule.
    As big of a win as Thursday’s game was, Southern had to hit the road and get back to business at Troy Saturday night. And the Trojans came to play.
    Troy hit 12 three pointers and shot 52.2 percent from long range. Kelton Ford and Musa Abdul-Aleem did most of the damage as they combined for 49 points and were 10-17 from three point land.
    Jelani Hewitt racked up 28 points for the Eagles, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Trojans as Southern fell 75-71.
    Georgia Southern spent two days in first place, but currently sits in second with a 4-2 record in Sun Belt play. UL Lafayette lost its second conference game Saturday to fall into a tie with the Eagles. Everybody else has three losses or more.
    UL Monroe is alone in first at 5-1. Georgia Southern travels to Monroe this Saturday. But first up is a return trip to Texas State Thursday night. The Eagles defeated the Bobcats 40-36 in Statesboro on Jan. 3. Texas State is currently 4-3 in Sun Belt action and is coming off a 78-73 overtime loss at Arkansas State Saturday night. The next home game for the men is next Thursday when Appalachian State comes to Hanner.
    The Georgia Southern women aren’t enjoying their inaugural season in the Sun Belt quite as much as the men to this point. The Eagles are 4-11 overall and 1-5 in conference play.
    Southern picked up its first Sun Belt win over South Alabama last Saturday, but dropped two in a row last week to Lafayette and Troy. The ladies travel to Texas State (4-3) and UL Monroe (1-5) this week. It sure would be nice to get one of these before coming home for seven out of the next eight games.
    Three Eagles average double figure scoring — Angel McGowan (12.6), Anna Claire Knight (12.0) and Patrice Butler (10.6).
    There’s a lot of basketball left to play, but only the top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. The Eagle women are currently in 10th place of 11 teams, so they need to start picking up some wins.
    On the men’s side, Southern needs to continue to win games because the top two seeds get double byes to the semi-finals.
    Every game is big. Let’s go pick up some wins on the road this week so we can come home with some momentum.


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