ATLANTA - Georgia State improved to 6-0 at home and 7-2 overall with a 64-45 win over Western Carolina on Friday evening in the GSU Sports Arena.
As the storylines for its seven wins have all gone this year, Georgia State built a big double-digit halftime lead with its good defense and coasted on to the victory. Tonight, GSU opened a 34-19 halftime lead and never looked back.
"When you hold a team to 19 points in the first half, you certainly put yourself in a position to go get a win," head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener noted. "Having all 10 players contribute significantly helps us in all facets of the wins. But you can win with good defense, whether it is at the start of a game or making the key stop in the last 30 seconds of a game, so defense has always been a point of emphasis for us."
In shutting down the Catamounts in the first half, GSU forced 16 turnovers, made 10 steals, blocked 3 shots and held WCU to 28% in the opening half. The Panthers went on to finish with 20 forced turnovers, 12 steals, 5 blocks and allowed WCU to convert on just 31.6% of its shots, 23.1% outside the 3-point arc.
Junior guard Kendra Long led GSU's scoring with 13 points, buoyed by 3-of-4 baskets outside the 3-point line. Freshman forward Morgan Jackson came off the bench to add nine points and grab five rebounds in 20 minutes. Sophomore guard Kayla Nolan had nine points, four rebounds and three steals. Senior center Cody Paulk was working towards a double-double with eight points and eight rebounds in her 25 minutes.
"I am impressed with Cody's play tonight because she made a lot of plays that don't show up in a box score," Baldwin-Tener said. "She was diving on the floor and going after loose basketballs, altering shots and helping out on defense, We need Kendra's outside shooting and it was good to see her find the range again after a little slump."
Sophomore guard Ali Lane led Western Carolina (3-7) with 14 points, making 6-of-10 shots. Lindsay Simpson added 10 points.
Western Carolina had its only lead of the night on the first basket of the game and then Georgia State went on a 9-0 run to take the 9-2 lead at 15:30. At the midway point of the first half it was 17-8 as the Panthers held the Catamounts to single digits in those first 10 minutes. The Panthers got the first double-digit lead of the game at 30-18 with 2:00 to go on a trey by Long. GSU took the 34-19 lead into the halftime intermission. The lead remained in double figures the rest of the way.
In the second half, the teams traded baskets for the first nine minutes, with GSU still holding the 15-point lead at 44-29 with 11 minutes to play. A quick 5-0 run by Long upped GSU's margin to 49-31 with nine minutes to play and the Panthers coasted in with the victory.
The 7-2 start marks just the seventh time in GSU's 38-year women's basketball team that the team has started 7-2 or better.
"We were a little sloppy at times tonight and we can play better, but it is good to get a win as the kids get a few days off now to be with their families," Baldwin-Tener added.
GSU returns to its home court on Dec. 29-30 when its hosts its Holiday & Hoops Tournament with Toledo (10-1), Charlotte (8-2) and Mississippi Valley State (3-6).
- This was the 6th time in the 9 games that GSU has held the opponent to 50 or fewer points (45 tonight)
- This was the 7th time in the 9 games that GSU has held the opponent under 33% shooting (31.6% tonight)
- This was the 8th time in the 9 games that GSU has held a rebounding advantage in the game (39-33 tonight).
- This was the 7th time in the 9 games that GSU has held the opponent to 25% or less outside the 3-point line (23.1 tonight)
- This was the 5th time in the 9 games that GSU has held the opponent under 20 points in the first half (18 tonight)
- This was the 6th time in the 9 games that GSU has blocked five or more shots in a game (5 tonight)
- GSU was No. 54 in FG percentage on offense (42.5) and upped that a little more with 43.4% tonight
- The Panthers average 20 forced turnovers a game and 10.7 steals after the 12 steals and 20 turnovers tonight.
- All 10 Panthers played 15 minutes or more in tonight's win.
- Cody Paulk had 4 blocks tonight to up her career total to 159. That leaves her 3 from moving into the Top 10 in CAA history and 7 from equalling the school record of 166.
- Kendra Long had three 3-point baskets to up her career total to 124. That leaves her four from Carmelita Layog in third place in school history as she chases the school record of 154.
- Freshman Morgan Jackson had a personal-best nine points, topping her previous two games with seven points.
- All 10 players have logged 13 minutes or better average and more than 117 minutes total in the 9 games.
- Paulk hit 3-of-4 field goals tonight to up her CAA league-leading percentage to 58.7 on the year (37-of-63).
- Long added 3 more steals tonight to up her team-best total to 21.
- Ashley Watson upped her team lead in assists to 29 with a pair this evening.
- Happy birthdays to Maryam Dogo (Dec. 25), Gaby Moss (Dec. 27) and Ashley Watson (Dec. 29).