STATESBORO, Ga. --- Georgia Southern senior Jimmy Tobias (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) hit the go-ahead shot with 57 seconds left and the Eagles survived a shot at the buzzer to prevail 72-70 over Furman Saturday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
GSU gets its first Southern Conference win of the season to improve to 8-6 overall and 1-2 in the league. Furman falls to 7-7 and 1-2.
The game was also cause for celebration for senior Donte Gennie (Tallahassee, Fla.) who scored his 1,000th career point. He becomes the 17th player since Georgia Southern moved to NCAA Division I to achieve that total.
"It's a big win for us - it was on our floor, and got us some confidence that we can play in the league, which I knew we could," said GSU head coach Jeff Price. "It's way too early to push the panic button - we play way too many games - and this team's going to continue to get better."
Georgia Southern shot a season-best 58.3 percent from the floor, including 65.4 percent in the first half.
"We normally shoot well in this gym and it was very uncharacteristic of us last week to shoot like we did," added Price. "It was good to see us come out and shoot the ball well and when you do that your intensity picks up."
GSU junior Louis Graham (West Palm Beach, Fla.) led all scorers with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor. This comes one game after tying his career high of 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
Gennie finished with 15 points, but his streak of 10 straight games with a 3-pointer was snapped.
Junior Dwayne Foreman (Apopka, Fla.) added 12 points and Tobias had 11 points and a season-high nine rebounds.
Moussa Diagne recorded a team-best 17 points, shooting 3-for-3 from behind the arc and 6-for-6 at the charity stripe. Eric Webb totaled 14 points with 11 coming after halftime.
A free throw from GSU senior Diogo Salazar (Sao Paulo, Brazil) with 5:09 to play tied the score at 67-67, but neither team could find the rim for more than two minutes before Diagne snapped the deadlock with a dunk.
Tobias put back his own missed shot with 2:38 to go to even the score and came through again with just under a minute to play, converting a his second-chance shot to break the tie.
Robby Bostain's effort with 23 seconds left rolled off the rim and out and Graham grabbed the rebound. Salazar could only hit one of two shots at the line to keep the Paladins within reach.
Stanley Jones also went 1-for-2 at the line with 14 seconds remaining and Graham pulled down another rebound and was fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, setting the stage for the wild final 10 seconds of the game.
A baseline shot from Eric Webb was blocked by Graham, but Gerad Punch came up with the loose ball at the left elbow and released a shot as the buzzer sounded. It was off the mark, securing the GSU victory.
"We shot free throws well throughout the game; we missed a couple at the end that we needed to make, but our defense down the stretch was really good," said Price. "They knocked the ball out of Anthony's hands - I thought the game was over - then all of the sudden they're shooting a 10-foot shot to tie the game."
Georgia Southern led for most of the first 10 minutes though not by more than four points. The team took control moments later with a 16-4 run.
A Bostain triple just under the 10 minute mark put Furman on top 24-22, preceding GSU's run. Graham evened the score on the Eagles' next trip down the floor and Salazar gave the Eagles the lead.
Jones briefly tied the score at 26-26 but Gennie hit back-to-back buckets to go up 30-26.
Jones again hit another jumper, but Georgia Southern reeled off the next eight points to take its biggest lead of the contest, 38-28. Four different players contributed in the run.
The Eagles shot 12-for-15 from the field in the first 12 minutes of the game, while the Paladins converted 10-of-17, including 4-of-7 from 3-point land.