Short-lived glory for the Eagles

Layne Saliba

The Georgia Southern men’s basketball team (11-4, 4-2 SBC) enjoyed the No. 1 spot in the Sun Belt for just one short day after beating Louisiana Lafayette on Thursday. But as Saturday rolled around, they dropped to No. 2 after falling short 75-71 to Troy University (7-8, 2-4 SBC).

Despite an impressive performance from redshirt senior guard Jelani Hewitt, who led all scorers with 28 points while adding six rebounds, Troy took control of the first half leaving Georgia Southern with their second Sun Belt loss.

Senior guard Curtis Diamond came off the bench scoring 12 points for the Eagles, while sophomore forward Kyle Doyle added nine. The Eagles dominated the paint scoring 26 points down low and getting 14 points on second chance. But, the Troy duo of Kelton Ford and Musa Abdul-Aleem who scored a combined 49 points was too much for Georgia Southern to handle.

“After the win Thursday night, we’ve been trying to hammer home ‘Answer the bell and be ready to go’ today, and we didn’t do that,” Head Coach Mark Byington said in a press release following the loss. “Every road win is going to be tough, and Troy plays very well at home. We didn’t respond early, and we fought our way back the last 10 minutes of the first half but overall, we didn’t play well tonight.”

The second half seemed to be all Eagles as they jumped out to a 56-48 lead with 13 minutes left to play. But the Trojans went on a 16-4 run that gave them a 64-60 lead with just over five minutes left in the game. The score was tied with 2:16 on the clock, but Troy never looked back as they never lost the lead again.

Missed opportunity after missed opportunity seemed to be the Eagles demise as the Trojans continued to do just the opposite. Their shots kept finding a way to make it through the net and Georgia Southern just couldn’t keep up as they only shot 28 percent from the floor in the second half.

The Eagles will play their second of a three-game road stretch against a very good Texas State (10-6, 4-3 SBC) team on Thursday. Following a Saturday game against now No. 1 UL Monroe (11-6, 5-1 SBC) who is on a five-game win streak, will bring the Eagles back to Hanner for five straight home games, beginning with Appalachian State (5-10, 2-4 SBC) on Jan. 29.