ATLANTA - Georgia State improved to 4-1 and won its the GSU Thanksgiving Tournament with a 77-58 win over Florida A&M on Saturday afternoon. In the earlier consolation game, Georgia Southern defeated Kent State, 71-47.
The script for GSU was the same as in all four wins, pounce quickly with aggressive defense to build a double-digit lead. The host Panthers struck with vengeance, taking an 8-0 lead in two and a half minutes and making it 16-3 through the first seven minutes. GSU never let up until it had a 41-18 halftime cushion by holding the Rattlers to 18 percent first half shooting.
Four players scored in double figures, led by sophomore forward Maryam Dogo's 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots coming off the bench. Sophomore guard Kendra Long netted 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds, made four assists and had three steals. Senior center Cody Paulk added 12 more points to go with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Sophomore point guard Ashley Watson contributed 12 points and seven assists.
Florida A&M was led by Jasmine Grice, who scored 30 points by making 13 of her 30 shots with 21 of those point coming in the second half.
GSU held Florida A&M to 32 percent shooting for the game, while dominating the Rattlers on the boards with a 55-32 rebound advantage that included 20 offensive caroms. The host Panthers were effective from the free throw line, making 21 of their 25 shots for an 84 percent rate.
"Our first-half defense was solid and the key to our win today," head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener noted. "This was a team win with the defense sparking the quick start and the offense being aggressive to get second-chance baskets if we needed."
Cody Paulk was named the Thanksgiving Tournament Most Valuable Player with 40 points, 19 rebounds and nine blocked shots in the two games. Joining her on the All-Tournament team were teammates Maryam Dogo and Kendra Long, along with Florida A&M's Jasmine Grice, Georgia Southern's Mimi DuBose and Kent State's Melanee Stubbs.
"Cody had a good tournament and could have had more had she not have had to sit a lot of the first half with two quick fouls today," Baldwin-Tener added. "Coaches like it when a player has good practices and then shows that in a game and that is what we saw from Maryam Dogo this week. She is improving every week."
Georgia State will play host to regional rival Kennesaw State next Sunday at the GSU Sports Arena.