JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- East Tennessee State again made another late-game comeback, but the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles made their key free throws in the final minute to defeat the Lady Bucs, 68-60.
The Lady Eagles (16-6, 10-3 SoCon) carried a 37-28 lead into halftime after holding a double-digit lead for most of the stanza. The largest lead of the game was a 37-24 Georgia Southern lead with 1:02 remaining in the first half. The Lady Bucs (4-18, 4-9 SoCon) then went on a 4-0 mini-run to close the half and cut the deficit to single-digits.
In the first four of minutes of the second half, the Lady Eagles again built their lead to a game-high 13 points at 48-35 with 15:35 left in the game. The Lady Bucs then came alive, with redshirt freshman guard Kiya Verdell leading the way. Verdell, who had been hampered by a torn knee ligament since her arrival in Johnson City prior to last season, showed no ill effects of the injury, using her explosiveness to score 12 points in the final 13 minutes of the contest. Verdell did not miss a shot from the floor, hitting all five of her shots, including two three-point bombs.
After Georgia Southern took their 13-point advantage, ETSU began to chip away at the Lady Eagle lead, cutting the advantage to as little as three points with 8:45 remaining (55-52). Georgia Southern then went on a quick 7-2 run over the next 4:58 to build the lead back to 10. ETSU got back in the game again after a three-pointer by senior guard Chris Forman cut the lead to four at 64-60 with two minutes remaining in the game. But a comeback was not in the cards tonight as the Lady Bucs did not capitalize on late Lady Eagle mistakes and made some costly errors of their own in the final minutes.
It was very disappointing that we lost our composure with 30 seconds left in the game, down by four, said ETSU Head Coach Karen Kemp. We were panicking, playing kind of tight because we want to win so bad.
The Lady Bucs were led by Forman, who scored 14 points on 6-19 shooting and 2-7 from three-point range. Verdell had her career-high scoring effort for the Lady Bucs with her 12 points. Junior forward Megan Jackson led ETSU with eight rebounds and four assists.
Kiya was a bright spot for us tonight. When we recruited her, we knew she could play, said Kemp following the game. She now feels more relaxed and more confident in her ability.
Georgia Southern was led by forward Sharon Mitchell, who registered her second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Danielle Quinn also added ten points for the Lady Eagles.
We stole one tonight, said Georgia Southern Head Coach Rusty Cram. They outplayed us and wanted that one a little more than we did.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Saturday afternoon from Memorial Center at 3:00 against the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Georgia Southern will play host to College of Charleston, Saturday at 1:00.