A look into the upcoming Eagle games

Hayden Boudreaux

Hope is still alive for the Lady Eagles

It has been a year of adjustment for the head coach Chris Vozab and Lady Eagles in their inaugural season in the conference. However, there is still time for a revival.

After playing 11 of their 17 games away from home, the Lady Eagles return to Hanner for a five game stretch beginning this Thursday against long-time rival Appalachian State. Through eight games of Sun Belt play, they have only won one contest, which has placed them in tenth place out of 11 teams. To qualify for the Sun Belt Tournament, they will need to break into the top eight teams. Using the average results over the last six years, a team would need to have seven conference wins to be in the top eight.

The good news for the Lady Eagles is that they have 12 games left to grab the six or seven wins they will need to make it into the tournament. The bad news is that the remaining games include top conference teams. Winning at least three of the upcoming games with home court advantage is crucial to their success and postseason hopes.

Junior forward Patrice Butler has been on a hot streak, scoring in the double digits in three straight games including 23 points in the loss to ULM. The Lady Eagles will also rely on sophomore guard Angel McGowan who has been the top scorer for the team, scoring double digits in 13 of the 17 games. However, the team will have to look to their lone senior Anna Claire Knight to not only score points but to keep the team headed in the right direction through the five games, which begins with App State.

The rivalry game is sure to excite the fans in Hanner as both teams are playing at around the same level. App State has won four games in the conference. Defending Maryah Stydnor will be the key to the game for GSU. She averages 18 points per game and has been the backbone of the team.

App does score eight points per game more than their opponents, but the Lady Eagles have three players who average in the double digits compared to two Mountaineers. As a whole, GSU has a better distribution of talent and if they can hold off the heavy hitters from App they will be able to walk away with a victory.

Things begin to heat up after App State as the best team in the conference is up next. The University of Arkansas Little Rock will give the Lady Eagles a run for their money but upsets can happen in Hanner. Georgia State will make a road trip to Statesboro with their seventh ranked spot in the Sun Belt, with a win propelling GS into the middle of the pack. There will be no break as they will face off against ULM again after their overtime loss last weekend. The stretch ends with the second ranked Arkansas State Wolfpack making the trip, which could be a potential statement game for the home team.

Eagles will defend number one spot at home

As the Eagle basketball team returns home to Hanner for a five game stretch, they find themselves in position to match the football team and win the Sun Belt in their inaugural season.

The top spot in the conference has been a volatile position for the first third of conference play, GS having to wrestle it back twice already. While they do sit atop the Sun Belt rankings it will still be an all-out war for the number one spot, with three teams only half a game out of the lead.The Eagles will have to face two of those teams in the five game home streak back-to-back.

GS has been powered by key players like senior guard Jelani Hewitt who has hit nearly 39 percent of his shots, averaged 19.8 points a game and 3.9 assists. Additionally, Hewitt has the highest 3-point percentage and free throw percentage on the team, with 37 percent and 89 percent respectively. He is in the top three of nearly every statistical category in the conference. It is also important to remember the contributions of senior forwards Trent Wiedemen and Eric Ferguson. Wiedemen has compiled 12.8 points per game along with a total of a time-high 16 blocks. Ferguson, who has only played in 11 of the 17 games and started none, has averaged 8.6 points and 17 steals.

Before the Eagles take on the top teams in the conference, they have to tangle with Appalachian State. While App State has had a shaky start to their season, rivalry games can swing either way. They are averaging 64.3 points per game compared to 70.7 of GS and have the worst field goal percentage in the conference. The key to beating App will be slowing down their quick junior guard Frank Eaves that averages over 18 points per game and is 36 percent from beyond the arc. Another lethal member of the Mountaineers is senior forward Tommy Spagnolo who is grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game along with 11.2 points.

Two days after the rivalry match-up, the Eagles will get a tune up match against Arkansas-Little Rock who is at the bottom of the conference. Then things start to crank up against in-state rival Georgia State, whom are currently only half a game behind the Eagles with the two top scorers in the Sun Belt. There will be little turn-around time because only three two days later the Eagles take on ULM whom is also only half a game behind. They will get another breather against Arkansas State who sits at eighth in the standings.

It is projected that the game tonight against App will be another sellout crowd. The athletic program is asking that fans attending wear blue in their #TrueBlue Out. The first 500 fans in the doors will receive free rally towels to support their Eagles.