Balanced offense and three-point shooting lead GSU past UALR

Colin Ritsick

A well-balanced offense pushed Georgia Southern basketball past Arkansas-Little Rock 76-61 Saturday night, extending its win streak to four games.

Three players scored in double-digits for the Eagles (15-5, 8-2 Sun Belt), and 10 of 13 that played scored at least a point.

“I think the best thing about tonight was we didn’t play our best game and we still found a way,” head coach Mark Byington said.

Jelani Hewitt led GSU in scoring with 17 points and added six assists. Angel Matias and Curtis Diamond scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. All 13 of Diamond’s points came in the second half, and UALR had a difficult time guarding him.

Byington said that Diamond took good shots in the first half, they just weren’t going in.

“I was happy with his shot selection. You can’t contradict yourself as a coach, if a guy shoots a good shot and it’s the right shot, you can’t say bad shot just because of the result,” Byington said. “He found his rhythm in the second half.”

Even with multiple people playing well, GSU struggled at times. There were some ugly possessions and forced shots, especially in the beginning of the game.

“We were a little out of rhythm tonight in a lot of areas…we’ve still got a lot to work on,” Byington said.

Georgia Southern shoots a lot of three-pointers, and tonight was no different.

The Eagles made 12 of 29 from downtown – nearly half of their total points. In the first half, Mike Hughes splashed one from NBA range, but a three that Hewitt made in the second half had to be from 25 feet out.

“I like the guys who play with confidence, so when they are in a rhythm I don’t mind them doing that. I feel even better when it goes in,” Byington said.

Byington said that shooting well from downtown gives them an advantage in spacing the floor.

The Eagles played aggressive defense all night long, and the frustration on offense for UALR was noticeable. The Trojans rarely, if ever, had an open shot and were 35.6 percent from the field.

Penetration and good passing set the tone for GSU on offense, leading to open three’s and a couple of massive two-handed dunks from Wiedeman.

The Eagles face in-state rival Georgia State on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to wear white to white-out Hanner Fieldhouse. Follow @GeorgeAnneSport for live updates.