Georgia Southern erases 20-point halftime deficit, defeats George Mason 98-89

Ryan Pye

Georgia Southern saw its first real test of the season on the hardwood Tuesday when they faced George Mason in Hanner Fieldhouse.

The second game of the season did not go as smoothly as the first, during which the Eagles routed Carver. Instead, GS was met with a hot-handed Patriots team and had to make big-time adjustments throughout the course of the game.

The first half was all Patriots, who shot 11-15 from beyond the arc and went into halftime with a comfortable 20-point lead over the Eagles.

Head Coach Mark Byington said his team made countless mistakes during the first 20 minutes, which cost them on the scoreboard.

“We didn’t settle into ourselves in the first half,” Byington said. “We didn’t play the right way.” 

When the Eagles returned to action during the second half of play, they were a completely different team.

“Everything started with our defense,” Byington said. “And the defense played lights out after the break.”

Whereas they struggled to keep the Patriots from knocking down shots early, the Eagles’ aggressive defense in the second half shut down their opponents and allowed them to make an incredible comeback.

Tookie Brown, who led the team with 25 points on the night, said, “I told the guys in the locker room at halftime that we’ve got to just keep fighting.”

Their fight undoubtedly showed on the court.

The Eagles opened up on a 10-2 run to start the second half, and that’s when things got energized inside Hanner Fieldhouse. Both Byington and Brown said getting the crowd involved made a huge impact on the game and helped the Eagles keep the momentum rolling in their favor.

Playing some of their best basketball, the Eagles were able to stage a comeback, and then some. At the final buzzer, the Eagles took home another win with a final score of 98-89.

{{tncms-inline account=”Captain” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I haven't seen Hanner Fieldhouse this amped against a team that isn't Georgia State in years. Huge goaltending call against GM right before the timeout makes it a 60-58 game. GS was down 22 at one point.</p>— Captain (@McclainBaxley) <a href="https://twitter.com/McclainBaxley/status/1062517479782649856?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 14, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/McclainBaxley/status/1062517479782649856″ type=”twitter”}}

Quan Jackson said there were a lot of lessons to be learned from this game, and they gained a lot out of battling through the adversity of trailing by such a large margin.

“Being down 20 ain’t gonna hurt us,” Jackson said. “We’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do and play our game.”

Brown added that the first half’s deficit did not scare him or his teammates.

“Basketball is just a game of runs,” Brown said. “We’ve got to just stay focused and keep playing.”

The winner’s mentality that his players showed is what Byington said he was most proud of at the end of the day.

“I think the reason we came back in the second half was the leadership of Tookie Brown and Montae Glenn,” Brown said. “Their leadership was tremendous.”

Byington said that leadership from his experienced players goes a long way in terms of the team’s overall success, especially when coming from behind like they did on Tuesday.

{{tncms-inline account=”Ryan” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">David Lee-Jones knocks down a three off the pass from Brown. Eagles trail 19-12 with 13 minutes left in the first half. <a href="https://t.co/1j3ITlVD5P">pic.twitter.com/1j3ITlVD5P</a></p>— Ryan (@RyanPye_6) <a href="https://twitter.com/RyanPye_6/status/1062500754299240449?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 14, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/RyanPye_6/status/1062500754299240449″ type=”twitter”}}

The Eagles’ incredible come-from-behind victory puts them at a 2-0 record so far this season, and they hope their momentum will carry over into the next few games.

Their next few meetings will come from outside the continental United States as they travel to the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase. The first of their three-game string from the Bahamas will come Friday, Nov. 16, where they will face off with Florida Atlantic at 5 p.m.

Ryan Pye, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, [email protected]