Elon, N.C. The Georgia Southern womens basketball team struggled shooting in all categories, and despite a late GSU rally, Elon held on for a 55-50 Southern Conference victory, Saturday night at Alumni Gym.
The Lady Eagles shot 21-of-79 (.266) from the field, including 4-of-24 (.167) from behind the arc, while also struggling from the free-throw line shooting a season-low 4-of-13 (.308).
Elon had a similar performance, shooting 17-of-54 (.315) from the field, including 1-14 (.071) from three-point land, in addition to 20-of-35 (.571) from the free-throw line.
With the loss Georgia Southern fall to 7-8 overall and 2-2 in SoCon play, its first loss in the New Year.
Elon improves to 7-7 overall and picks up its second league win with a 2-2 record.
Junior forward Chequilla Jessie (Sanford, Fla.) led all scorers with a season-high 14 points, and garnered her season-first and career-second double with a team-high 13 rebounds. Junior guard Tiffany Brown (Waxhaw, N.C.) added 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds on the night.
Elon was paced by Urysla Cotton with 11 points and teammate Nikko King controlled the boards with 17 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles jumped out to an 8-0 lead thanks to Jessie's handiwork in the paint. The junior forward hit a pair of baskets and two free throws before Elon could produce their first points.
It took Elon 3:33 to get up on the scoreboard with Tiffany Davis giving the Phoenix their first bucket. Elon fought their way back, and with 5:20 remaining in the first half, Rachel Hester hit the go-ahead bucket to give the Phoenix their first lead of the game, 14-13.
Although GSU held a 20.6 percent advantage in field goal shooting over Elon's 16.7 percent, the Phoenix maintained the lead going into the break with a 21-18 advantage.
Just under two minutes into the second half, the Phoenix scored six unanswered points during and six-minute GSU scoring drought.
The Lady Eagles finally broke the drought when Christa Waterman (Sugar Hill, Ga.) hit a jumper with 12:09 remaining, but the Phoenix extended the lead to 11 points with just over six minutes remaining.
Georgia Southern rallied back to close the lead to just three points with 2:31 on the clock after Brown stole the inbounding pass and quickly put in a layup for a 46-43 Elon advantage. But Elon hit a jumper and knocked down four free throws in the next minute to extend the lead to nine points.
The Lady Eagles had eight steals and forced 12 Elon turnovers in the second half, which translated into 17 points off of Elon's errors.
Elon was sent to the charity stripe 14 times during the remainder of the game, hitting just seven attempts from behind the line. And although the Lady Eagles battled back to within three points with 19 seconds remaining, the shots couldn't drop for the visitors and the Phoenix held on for the victory.
"To me our biggest problem is that we don't have any seniors," said head coach Rusty Cram. "These kids are still looking for a leader to pull us up when things go sour. And they're not getting that."
Elon's bench made the difference for the Phoenix, scoring 30 points from its reserves compared to GSU's 14 points.
Head coach Rusty Cram and the Lady Eagles continue their stay in North Carolina as they next face UNC Greensboro, Monday, January 8. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.