Second-half rally not enough as Spartans fall at Georgia Southern
STATESBORO, GA – UNC Greensboro trailed by as many as 16 in the second half but used a 15-0 run midway through to make things interesting before Georgia Southern pulled away late to take a 53-45 win on Saturday. With the win, the Eagles salvaged a split of the season series, avenging a loss to the Spartans in Greensboro in December.
Monique Floyd scored 11 points to lead the Spartans (7-13, 4-7 SoCon), finishing in double digits for her career-best fifth straight game. Lakiah Hyson just missed double figures herself, finishing with nine points.
Jessica Geiger scored a game-high 17 to lead the Eagles (12-8, 7-4 SoCon).
After Georgia Southern opened the second half on a 17-4 run ¬¬– with Ashley Melson scoring six of the first eight points – to seemingly blow open a tight game, freshman Agneta Morkunaite went to the free throw line and hit a pair of attempts to ignite the Spartans' big run. Amanda Leigh had six points and six different players contributed in the spurt, culminating in Hyson's steal and layup to make it 40-39 with 7:37 to play.
The Spartans had a chance to take the lead on their next possession, but Hyson's short jumper over two defenders was off the mark. Ashley Rivens' pair of free throws put the Eagles back up by three before a Floyd layup, but Jamie Navarro answered with a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game.
Kendra Smith's jumper made it a one-possession game again, but Geiger, who had been relatively quiet in the second half to that point, came up with a big offensive rebound and layup to push the lead back to four at 47-43.
Geiger was fouled on the Eagles' next possession, and hit both ends of a one-and-one to put UNCG down six. J'Lisia Ogburn's layup after a defensive stop pushed GSU back in front by eight with just over three minutes to play, and the Spartans would only get Floyd's layup on the other the end the rest of the way.
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Spartans, as Georgia Southern roared out to a 16-3 lead on the strength of six points from Geiger. UNCG would finally get its offense in gear, however, as Ashley Mullins provided a spark off the bench by hitting a jumper and a 3-pointer on consecutive Spartan possessions to make it an 18-8 game with 7:58 to play in the opening half.
After a defensive stop, Gini Grimsley hit a 3 and Hyson turned a GSU turnover into a layup to cut the deficit to five. Hyson then made it a one-possession game with a 3-pointer of her own to cap an 11-0 UNCG run with 4:30 to play in the opening frame.
The Eagles would stretch it back to five points with a Navarro free throw and another bucket from Geiger, but TaShama Banner's pair of free throws with 28.1 seconds left before the half sent the Spartans into the locker room down just three at 21-18.
The Spartans' woes at the free throw line continued Saturday, as they hit just eight of their 14 attempts (57.1 percent) for the game. Four of those misses came in UNCG's 15-0 run.
Georgia Southern held a stout advantage on the glass, grabbing 42 rebounds to just 30 for the Spartans.
"We just did not play well," UNCG coach Lynne Agee said. "We were out of sync. But clearly, the biggest issue was rebounding with Georgia Southern. They manhandled us and pushed us around the floor and got second opportunities over and over again in the first half.
"The positive side was we did rally back and get in the game, make it a game in the second half. But we did not play well enough to win, obviously. We weren't focused today."
UNCG will return to action on Monday at 7 p.m., when it will face College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. The Spartans will be going for the season sweep of the Cougars after taking a 70-55 win in Greensboro on Dec. 6.
NOTE: Prior to the game, several local cancer survivors were honored as part of the Eagles' Pack the House in Pink initiative, and UNCG head coach Lynne Agee accepted a pink rose from GSU in memory of NC State coach and longtime friend Kay Yow, who lost her battle with cancer Saturday morning.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN 53, UNC GREENSBORO 45
UNC GREENSBORO (7-13, 4-7)
Monique Floyd 5-12 1-3 11; Lakiah Hyson 4-8 0-2 9; Amanda Leigh 2-8 2-3 6; Gini Grimsley 2-7 0-0 5; Ashley Mullins 2-6 0-0 5; Kendra Smith 1-4 1-2 3; TaShama Banner 0-1 2-2 2; Agneta Morkunaite 0-0 2-2 2; Sarah Folwell 1-1 0-0 2; Agne Girstautaite 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-47 8-14 45.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (12-8, 7-4)
Jessica Geiger 6-11 4-4 17; Jamie Navarro 2-5 3-4 8; Ashley Melson 3-12 2-3 8; J'Lisia Ogburn 2-7 2-2 6; Krista Tate 0-2 6-8 6; Ashley Rivens 1-9 3-3 5; Brittney Nelson 1-4 0-1 3; Samantha Williams 0-0 0-0 0; Candice Ivy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-50 20-25 53.
UNC Greensboro................ 18
27 - 45
Georgia Southern.............. 21 32 - 53
3-point goals--UNC Greensboro 3-15 (Ashley Mullins 1-4; Lakiah Hyson 1-2; Gini Grimsley 1-2; TaShama Banner 0-1; Kendra Smith 0-1; Amanda Leigh 0-5), Georgia Southern 3-15 (Jamie Navarro 1-3; Brittney Nelson 1-3; Jessica Geiger 1-2; Ashley Rivens 0-6; Ashley Melson 0-1). Fouled out—UNC Greensboro-None, Georgia Southern-None. Rebounds--UNC Greensboro 30 (Lakiah Hyson 5), Georgia Southern 42 (J'Lisia Ogburn 9). Assists--UNC Greensboro 4 (Agneta Morkunaite 1; TaShama Banner 1; Lakiah Hyson 1; Gini Grimsley 1), Georgia Southern 10 (Ashley Melson 3; Jamie Navarro 3). Total fouls—UNC Greensboro 18, Georgia Southern 15. Technical fouls--UNC Greensboro-None, Georgia Southern-None. A-1368
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