STATESBORO, Ga. - Four Lady Eagles scored in double-figures as the Georgia Southern women's basketball team cruised to a 71-59 Southern Conference victory over Furman, Saturday afternoon, at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The win snaps a two-game skid for the Lady Eagles, improving their record to 6-7 overall, and garnering their first league win of the season, posting a 1-1 conference record.
The Lady Paladins fall to 5-8 (0-2) with the loss, extending the streak to three losses.
Tiffany Brown (Waxhaw, N.C.) led all scorers with 18 points, shooting 8-of-12 (.667) from the field and 1-of-3 from behind the three-point arc. The junior guard dished out a game-high five assists, pulled down a game-high tying seven rebounds and grabbed a season-high five assists.
Shawnda Atwood (Pensacola, Fla.) netted a season-high tying 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while pulling down five rebounds. Freshman guard Carolyn Whitney (Duluth, Ga.) and sophomore guard Ashley Rivens (Charlotte, N.C.) rounded out the GSU scoring with 13 and 10 points apiece.
Furman's Jessica Lange led the Lady Paladins with 15 points going 6-of-8 from the field and grabbed a game-high tying seven rebounds.
Both teams traded baskets to start out the contest before Georgia Southern began a 6-0 scoring run that that was capped by a steal and a fast break layup off the hands of Brown. The Lady Eagles led 12-7 with 16:08 remaining in the first half.
Georgia Southern's quick defense-to-offense transition helped spark another big run, scoring 10 unanswered points which started when Brown rebounded Furman's missed shot, sprinted the length of the court and dished out to a cutting Carolyn Whitney. Whitney one-touched the ball back to Brown for an easy layup and a 23-18 advantage with 6:44 remaining in the first half.
Less than two minutes later, redshirt freshman Taylor Youngblood (Sylvester, Ga.) recorded her first collegiate points, burying a trifecta that increased the GSU lead to 30-18 with 5:12 remaining in the first stanza.
Shawnda Atwood capped the run to give the Lady Eagles a 13-point lead with 4:52 on the clock.
At the break, the Lady Eagles had built up an eight-point advantage, shooting a solid 14-of-31 (.452) from the field, a notable difference from the prior two games when GSU shot below 22 percent in the first half. Defensively, the Lady Eagles forced eight first-half turnovers, including five steals that converted into 10 points off turnovers.
Atwood paced the Lady Eagles with 11 points, making her first start since their first matchup versus Troy (Nov. 18).
Chrissy Phelps and Jessica Lange led the Lady Paladins with eight points apiece in the first half.
To start the second half, the Lady Paladins quickly cut the margin down to 34-28 when Phelps hit both foul shots. The six-point margin was the closest Furman would get to even up the match for the remainder of the game.
But Brown's trifecta with 15:18 remaining in the second half sparked a 12-0 scoring run that continued over the next 4:05. In that same time period, the Lady Eagles forced four Furman turnovers as GSU held a 55-36 advantage, its largest lead of the game.
Jessica Lange broke the GSU run, producing an old-fashioned three-pointer with 9:01 remaining. Lee Stephens added another three-pointer a minute later to close the GSU lead to 13 points, 55-42.
Over the next 6:43, the Lady Paladins had changed the momentum of the game, going on a 17-8 run that closed the GSU lead down to an eight point, 63-55 margin with 2:01 remaining in the contest.
The Lady Eagles held on for the win as they led the entire second half.
Thanks to a quick transition from defense to offense, the Lady Eagles produced 16 fast break points, compared to Furman's seven.
"We figured with the four girls I had going in... there were four areas to beat them in," said head coach Rusty Cram. "One of them was the turnover departmenteak. We really wanted to turn up the heat against them. They're taller than us. We felt like we were quicker than them when you got five people on the floor. And we wanted to utilize that."
GSU dominated in the paint, recording a 44-14 advantage in points in the paint.
The Lady Eagles shot 29-of-69 (.420) from the field, edging Furman's 19-of-47 (.404) field goal shooting.
Furman committed 22 turnovers, while the Lady Eagles dropped 14.
Cram has accomplished what no other women's basketball coach has at Georgia Southern. The 11th year leader has coached his 300th game, posting a 160-140 (.533) record. He sits just three games shy of the most career wins, behind predecessor Drema Greer, who garnered a 162-101 record in nine years as head coach (1987-96).
The Lady Eagles will finish up the five-game homestand, Tuesday, January 2, as they continue conference play facing Wofford. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. The men's team will immediately follow the women's game as the Eagles host Pikeville in Hanner Fieldhouse.