Eagles are back on top of the Sun Belt

Layne Saliba

Georgia Southern (13-4, 6-2 SBC) is atop the Sun Belt once again after a hard-fought victory at University of Louisiana at Monroe (12-8, 6-3 SBC) on Saturday with a final score of 57-53.

An early steal in the first 20 seconds of the contest by freshman guard Mike Hughes set the tone for the Eagles. Georgia Southern was able to tally six more steals on the night, led by redshirt senior guard Jelani Hewitt.

With Hewitt’s two steals on Saturday, he was able to etch his name into the record books. Hewitt now holds the career steals record at Georgia Southern with 223 total steals.

ULM led by six with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half of this back-and-forth game. But, Georgia Southern was able to battle back by being aggressive and forcing turnovers throughout the half. The Eagles went into the locker room with a slim first half lead of 29-27.

After the break, the Eagles came out ready to play. They had an eight-point cushion with 9:55 left, but after a ULM timeout, the Warhawks hit two back-to-back baskets leaving head coach Mark Byington no other choice than to call a timeout.

Byington must have said something special because the Eagles came back and went on a 9-4 run to give them a 52-43 lead with 7:04 remaining.

The Warhawks made it difficult for the Eagles, but Georgia Southern never lost the lead again. The Eagles took the victory and moved back to the No. 1 spot in the Sun Belt for the second time this season.

Redshirt senior forward Eric Ferguson led the way for the Eagles with 19 points and eight rebounds. Hewitt started off slow, but found his stride in the second half. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

The Eagles’ three-game road stretch is finally over. However, the team has found a way to make it out of the difficult stretch winning two of the three games.

“That’s something we say in the huddles, at practice, ‘find a way’. When things are going against you or going for you, find a way,” Byington said in a press release following the win.

The Eagles come back home to Statesboro for a five-game home stand starting with Appalachian State on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.

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