Georgia Southern's Cleon Roberts tied his career-high scoring 20 points to lead four players in double figures as the Eagles downed The Citadel 78-57 in Thursday night Southern Conference action at McAlister Field House.
Roberts notched his 11th double-digit outing of the season after hitting 7-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Joining Roberts in double figure scoring for the Eagles (11-15, 5-8 SoCon) were Eric Ferguson (14), Brian Holmes (11) and C.J. Reed (10). Georgia Southern earned a season split in the series by hitting 29-of-55 (52.7%) from the field and knocking down 12-of-22 (54.5%) from beyond the arc. They became the fourth straight Citadel opponent to hit 29 or more field goals in a contest, dating back to the Feb. 2 meeting with Furman.
The Eagles took advantage of a 34-29 edge on the glass to outscore The Citadel 29-24 in the paint. Marvin Baynham grabbed six rebounds and Holmes added five caroms to lead the way for Georgia Southern. Another key came from GSU bench, who was responsible for 25 points, highlighted by Ferguson's double figures.
Sophomore P.J. Horgan led all Citadel scorers with 19 points while Marshall Harris III poured in 10. Horgan capped off his sixth double-digit performance of the season by hitting 7-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-8 at the charity stripe while climbing the glass for a team-high eight rebounds. Meanwhile, Harris topped double figures for the eighth time in the campaign after knocking down 3-of-7 from the field, including a second half 3-pointer, and 3-of-6 from the free throw line.
The Citadel (6-18, 3-11) managed to hit 21-of-53 (39.6%) from the field, their lowest percentage in the last six contests. The Bulldogs biggest struggles came from beyond the arc, where they were successful on 3-of-16 (18.8%) attempts with only Raemond Robinson finishing with multiple treys. The Cadets also labored from the free throw line, converting 12-of-24 (50%), the lowest this season.
Emerging from the intermission with a 47-29 lead, Georgia Southern quickly put the game out of reach with a 16-4 run in the first 5:55 of the second half. The tandem of Holmes and Ferguson provided 10 of the 16 points during the stretch as the Eagles established a 63-33 advantage.
The Citadel scored eight of the next 13 points including a 3-pointer from Harris to trim the margin to 27 with 8:06 remaining.
Georgia Southern maintained its lead, 72-48, despite a Robinson 3-pointer and points in the paint from Horgan and Mike Groselle during a 1:36 stretch of the second half.
The Eagles managed six points over the final 5:13 of the contest, taking advantage of 3-pointers by Holmes and Cole Rives, while Horgan finished with five of the nine Citadel points in the 78-57 final.
The Citadel struggled to find its offensive flow in the first half, connecting on just 9-of-23 (39.1%) from the floor and 1-of-7 (14.3%) from beyond the arc. The bright spot for the Cadets came from the free throw line where they converted 10-of-14 (71.4%), following 10 Georgia Southern fouls.
The trio of Groselle, Harris and Horgan scored five points apiece to lead the way for The Citadel. Groselle proved to be the most efficient shooter in the opening frame, knocking down 2-of-4 from the field to go along with a team-high four rebounds. Meanwhile, Harris and Horgan combined to hit 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
Roberts capped off a solid first half performance for the Eagles with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor. The freshman guard drained three 3-pointers and added a pair of free throws to go along with three steals. He was joined offensively by Reed who tallied seven points after knocking down 3-of-7 from the field.
Georgia Southern established its halftime advantage by hitting 19-of-31 (61.3%) from the field. The Eagles finished 7-of-11 (63.6%) from beyond the arc led multiple treys from Roberts and Ferguson (2-2). GSU also took advantage of a 20-6 edge in points in the paint.
After falling behind 9-3 at the 16:43 mark a Matt Van Scyoc jumper to energized The Citadel offense that scored the next four straight buckets to move in front 11-9 just over three minutes later.
Following a Reed jumper from the free throw line that knotted the game at 11-11 the Bulldogs used the next four straight free throws to move in from 15-11.
Georgia Southern rattled off five straight points to regain the lead, 16-15, following a layup by Roberts. The two teams eventually battled to a 21-20 score, following a Groselle free throw, with exactly eight minutes remaining in the half.
Roberts scored 11 of the next 22 Georgia Southern points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Eagles established a 42-29 lead with 1:21 remaining. GSU tallied the final five points of the frame to take an 18-point lead into the intermission.
The Citadel returns to action on Saturday evening when the Bulldogs host South Division leading Davidson at 7:05 p.m.