Georgia Southern Eagles run over Roadrunners 77-53

STATESBORO — If the Georgia Southern men’s basketball team needs to, it can rely on its improved depth, defense and rebounding, all of which were on display Monday night at Hanner Fieldhouse.

 

But Tookie Brown and Ike Smith are always going to be the go-to weapons for the Eagles, and their 77-53 home-opening win over California State-Bakersfield is a perfect example why.

The pair of junior guards combined for 45 points as the Eagles cruised against an opponent that head coach Mark Byington thought might be one of Georgia Southern’s toughest of the season.

“The final outcome was unexpected,” Byington said. “Cal-State Bakersfield, they’re not known on the East Coast, but if you’re a coach and you follow the game, you know how good of a program they are. It was a great win.”

What wasn’t unexpected was how a backcourt in its third season playing together put on a show — Smith lighting it up from 3-point range and Brown overpowering the defense by driving to the basket.

Brown was 7 of 8 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, totaling 24 points, while Smith scored 21 and was 4 of 7 from the perimeter.

Smith said when the scoring bond between him and his counterpart starts to come alive, they’re usually encouraged by their teammates to keep it going.

“I feed off of him, and he feeds off of me, and sometimes that can get the team going, but when you have teammates like Jake (Allsmiller) and Mike (Hughes) and guys on the bench and they just tell us being aggressive and keep shooting, and that’s what we do,” Smith said.

Brown was nearly unstoppable when he took the ball to the hoop, but the offense that he and Smith generated was fueled by a physical half-court defense that frustrated the Roadrunners throughout the night.

As CSU-Bakersfield tried to cut into the lead before halftime, GS guard Jared Hamilton made a lay-up with 6 seconds left, and Brown stole the ensuing in-bounds pass at midcourt, then was fouled as he tried beat the buzzer with a deep 3. Brown made all three free throws and extended the Georgia Southern lead to 36-19 at halftime.

“That’s a good team,” Smith said. “We had to play a lot of defense to win this game.

“Cal-State is one of those teams they try to get up into you and try to get into your head. Coach just said be aggressive, keep shooting 3s, defense always leads to good offense. We had to get stops for that to happen on offense.”

It was clear there would be no comeback from CSU-Bakersfield as the Eagles kept up the defensive intensity, and Brown and Smith scored in double digits in the second half.

“The way we started the game set the tone defensively,” Byington said. “Even the shots they made were good defense. When we’re locked in, we can really guard and we can really rebound.”

Georgia Southern is off to an impressive 2-0 start that began with an 85-83 upset on the road against Wake Forest on Friday.

Byington said following a close win with a blowout of a team that made the NIT semifinals last season is a sign of his team’s maturity. The Eagles are starting two seniors and three juniors.

“I feel like we played much better than we did Friday night against Wake,” Byington said. “I think our guys responded. They knew how good Cal-State Bakersfield is and they came to play tonight.”

That was particularly true of Brown and Smith, but Byington said the All-Sun Belt Conference first-team selections aren’t in it for themselves.

“They’re fun to coach, and they continue to get better,” Byington said. “They’ve had so much success individually, I think they’re done with that. I think they want team success.”

CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD (53)

Briggs 2-6 2-4 7, Aly 0-2 2-8 2, Joiner 1-4 0-0 2, Wrapp 1-3 0-0 2, Holden 4-9 0-0 9, Davis 1-3 0-0 2, McCall 1-2 0-0 2, Ndoye 6-8 1-5 13, Lee 1-4 0-0 2, Durham 4-12 2-5 12.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN (77)

Glenn 4-8 0-2 9, Allsmiller 2-5 0-0 6, Hughes 0-7 3-4 3, Smith 7-14 3-4 21, Brown 7-8 9-10 24, Hamilton 1-6 0-0 2, O’Connell 0-0 0-1 ,; Jackson 0-1 0-2 0, Simmons 2-4 3-4 7, Tione Jones 0-1 0-0 0, David-Lee Jones 1-2 0-0 3, Reynolds 1-1 0-0 2.

Halftime—36-19 GS. 3-point goals—CSUB 4-17 (Briggs 1-2, Holden 1-3, Durham 2-8); GS 9-20 (Glenn 1-1, Allsmiller 2-5, Smith 4-7, Brown 1-1, David-Lee Jones 1-1.) Assists—CSUB 10 (Wrapp, 5), GS 9 (Hughes, David-Lee Jones 3.) Rebounds—CSUB 40 (Wrapp, Ndoye, Durham, 6), GS 35 (Glenn, Smith 7). Total Fouls—CSUB 21, GS 21. Fouled Out—None. A—2,423.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

GEORGIA SOUTHERN 68, COASTAL GEORGIA 63

STATESBORO — The Georgia Southern women’s basketball team trailed by eight points late in the third quarter before rallying in the fourth to come away with its first win of the season at Hanner Fieldhouse.

Georgia Southern’s Nakol Franks scored all 13 of her points in the final frame to key the rally. The Eagles had a 15-2 run in the fourth and led by as many as seven. Coastal Georgia tried to get back in it when a layup by Danesha Murray and two free throws by Ashleigh Jones cut the lead to three, but Franks iced it with a 3-pointer with 1:08 to play.

Coastal Georgia junior forward Brianna Gipson, a former Armstrong State University player, scored 16 points, while freshman center Quira Porter, a Calvary Day School graduate, added two.

COASTAL GEORGIA (63)

Murray 4-8 0-0 8, Gipson 6-10 4-4 16, Jones 1-6 2-2 4, Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Gisladottir 5-7 0-0 15, McMorris 0-2 0-0 0, Porter 0-0 2-2 2, Benoit 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Felts 5-10 0-0 11, Washington 2-3 0-3 5, Roberts 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 24-51 8-11 63.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN (68)

Foulks 3-9 2-2 7, Butler 3-10 4-7 10, Brown 2-4 0-0 5, Akins 4-8 1-2 9, Beamon 0-6 8-12 8, English-Lurry 1-2 4-5 7, Franks 4-8 2-2 13, Atwater 1-5 1-2 3, Belcher 0-2 0-0 0, Dias-Allen 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 21-59 20-32 68.

CG|22|16|13|12|—|63

GS|22|15|8|23|68

3-point goals—CG 7-18 (Jones 0-5, Gisladottir 5-7, McMorris 0-2, Felts 1-2, Washington 1-2); GS 6-24 (Foulks 1-5, Butler 0-2, Brown 1-3, Akins 0-2, Beamon 0-2, English-Lurry 1-2, Franks 3-6, Atwater 0-2). Rebounds—CG 39 (Gipson 8), GS 34 (Butler 9). Assists—CG 9 (Harris, Felts 2), GS 13 (Atwater 4). Total fouls—CG 24, GS 16. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None. A—315.

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