Shaking Off the Rust
AMERICUS, Ga. – Basketball coaches have many fears, and long layovers are one of those fears. This is especially true when teams are playing at a high level like the Georgia Southwestern Lady 'Canes. After winning in convincing fashion at Montevallo and giving defending national champions Clayton State everything they could handle in a four point loss, Coach Britsky and company were off for three weeks. GSW shook off the early rust to down the Coastal Georgia Mariners (10-9) 90-79 on Wednesday night.
Terra Branch, the third leading scorer in the Peach Belt Conference, paced the Lady 'Canes with 21 points on an efficient 8-14 shooting from the field. The senior guard also tallied five steals and three assists in addition to leading the Blue & Gold in scoring. She was supported by fellow senior Jessica Jones who recorded the game's only double-double with 18 points and eleven rebounds. The duo represented two of GSW's five double-digit scorers with Tania Walters (15 points), Jessica Bivins (eleven points) and Briana Walker (eleven points) rounding out the Hurricane leading scorers.
Junior forward Adrian Randall contributed on the defensive end for Coach Britsky with nine rebounds and four blocks in addition to her four points. While she and Jones combined for 20 rebounds, it was rebounding by committee for Georgia Southwestern as all eleven players who played in the game recorded at least one rebound.
As a team GSW shot 42.9% from the field, 33.3% from beyond the arc and 54.5% from the charity stripe against Coastal Georgia. The three-point and free throw shooting percentages were below their season averages, but the Blue & Gold recouped their misses by out-rebounding the Mariners (+8), tallying 13 steals and blocking five shots.
The show offensively was put on by Coastal Georgia's Courtney Sands who scored a game-high 28 points, which was propelled by her 16-22 performance at the free throw line. Behind her was Crystal Chaney who scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
The visiting Mariners lead for the game's first fifteen minutes behind Courtney Sands' 21 first-half points and her 13-14 free throw shooting in the game's first half. Their lead would grow to as big as nine points before a Briana Walker three-pointer would tie the game with 5:18 to play in the half. GSW would lead 45 to 42 at the half thanks to their 21-9 run to end the half.
The Blue & Gold would never relinquish their lead in the second half and would push it to as much as 13 points before winning the game by eleven points. The 90-79 victory wrapped up their non-conference portion of the schedule, and the Lady 'Canes have finished with an 8-1 record against non-PBC opponents (9-2 overall) in the 2011-12 season.
After a three-week wait before Wednesday night's game, GSW will only have three days before their next game. Coach Britsky and the ladies will travel to Lander University, and they will face the Lady Bearcats at 1:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.