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  • Eagles defeat Samford to move to 4-1 in SoCon play

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    STATESBORO, GA. - Georgia Southern Men's Basketball team played solid defense down the stretch to defeat Samford, 58-53 on Thursday night at Hanner Fieldhouse. The game marked the midway point of the 2011-12 season as the Eagles improved to 6-9 overall and 4-1 in league play, reaching the SoCon mark for the first time since the 2003-04 season. Samford falls to 3-12 and 0-4 in the league.

    "Samford runs the Princeton Style of offense better than a lot of teams in the country," said Head Coach Charlton "C.Y." Young. "The way Samford plays matches-up well against our team and they forced us into our Plan-B tonight. We didn't play well, but I'm proud of the team for finding a way to win even when they weren't playing their best."

    With the Eagles leading by one point, Jelani Hewitt (Miramar, Fla.) drove the baseline and scored a deuce with just 30 seconds remaining in the game to give GSU a three-point edge. a defensive stand at the other end allowed Hewitt to get fouled after senior Willie Powers III (Gainesville, Fla.) grabbed the rebound. Hewitt made both free throws to finish the night with a team-high 13 points and cement the 58-53 victory.

    Sophomore Eric Ferguson (Statesboro, Ga.) continued his run of good play with his fourth double-double of the season and second in the last three games. Ferguson scored 11 points and pulled 12 rebounds to go with three steals. Powers finished the game with 12 points and five assists.
    Samford was led by both Drew Windler and Raijon Kelly at 12 points while Tyler Hood scored 11. The Bulldogs, however, were unable to score in the game's final 2:38 and led by as many as five points late in the first half.

    The Eagles trailed by three points at the break (32-29) and withstood a strong shooting first half by the Bulldogs. Samford shot 56% from the field in the opening half with five three-pointers.

    A three-pointer by Ben Drayton III (St. Marys, Ga.) on the first possession of the second half leveled the scores and ended a drought of over five minutes without a field goal for the Eagles. Georgia Southern logged three offensive rebounds on the first two possessions of the half and forced Samford to burn its first timeout with 18:11 left in the period.

    Samford tied the game with 17:24 remaining, but would not lead for the balance of the game. A five minute scoring drought for both teams took the contest inside the final five minutes with the Eagles leading by three. The Bulldogs cut the advantage to one point at both the 4:12 and 2:38 marks, but Hewitt's four points in the final minutes gave GSU the victory.

    The Eagles shot just 42.6% from the field and were 5-of-18 from the bonusphere. Samford finished the game marginally better from the field (42.9%) and was 7-of-26 from downtown. The Eagles made 12-of-20 from the free throw line while Samford was 4-of-6 at the line. Georgia Southern matched its season-low by committing 13 fouls.

    Georgia Southern opens the second half of the 2011-12 regular season on the road against Wofford and Furman. The road swing begins on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Spartanburg S.C. and concludes the following Thursday night, January 19th, at 7 p.m. against the Paladins in Greenville, S.C.