Blood poured from Marshall Harris’ nose as The Citadel’s sophomore guard made his way to the Bulldogs’ bench.
His team down by 25 points, Harris had caught an elbow in a loose-ball scrum. He fired the basketball off the floor, earning a technical foul
“Man, we are getting our (butts) beat!” he exclaimed.
Frustration boiled over Thursday night as the Bulldogs dropped their third straight game, 78-57, to Georgia Southern before 1,046 fans at McAlister Field House.
The Citadel trailed by 32 in the second half to a team it beat 70-55 on the road last month.
“I let my emotions get the best of me,” said Harris, who came back in the game to finish with 10 points and four assists. “But it’s frustrating for anybody when you are on a losing streak.”
Defense, or the lack thereof, has been the chief source of frustration as The Citadel has slipped to 6-18 overall and 3-11 in the Southern Conference. Over the last three losses, opposing teams have averaged 82 points while shooting 56 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point range.
Georgia Southern (11-15, 5-8) shot 52.7 percent and made 12 of 22 from 3-point range, including 4 of 6 by freshman Cleon Roberts (20 points), 3 of 4 from 6-7 junior Eric Ferguson (14 points) and 3 of 3 from 6-1 junior Brian Holmes (11 points).
“Non-existent,” is how Citadel coach Chuck Driesell described the Bulldogs’ defense.
“I know there is not a guy in that locker room that didn’t want to come out and play as hard as he could and prove that we’re a good defensive team,” he said. “We challenged them. That’s a pride thing, that’s you vs your man. But we’re not getting it done.
“Maybe it’s a fatigue thing, maybe it’s an execution thing, maybe teams are just better than us.”
The Bulldogs tried a variety of defenses against the Eagles, who came in averaging 62.2 points per game, 10th out of 12 teams in the SoCon. None of it worked, as the Eagles got inside against the zone (29 points in the paint), got run-outs off 12 Citadel turnovers (13 fastbreak points) and made a season-high 12 3-pointers.
“Teams are beating us off the dribble and we have to collapse, and they kick out to wide-open threes,” said Citadel forward P.J. Horgan, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points. “And we could talk a lot more on defense, too.
“These last three games have been rough,” he said. “But we’re not going to let it get to us. We’re going to bounce back.”
It better be soon. SoCon leader Davidson comes to McAlister on Saturday, fresh off a 75-59 win at College of Charleston on Thursday.
“It hurts right now,” Harris said. “But the worst thing you can do is feel sorry for yourself and put your head down, because that will make it worse. The only thing we can do is keep our heads up and work harder.”
The Eagles pressed and double-team aggressively against Citadel center Mike Groselle, holding him to eight shots and nine points.
The Bulldogs went 3 of 16 from 3-point range and shot a season-worst 50 percent (12 of 24) from the foul line.
The Citadel trailed by just 25-22 late in the first half before the defense cratered. GSU ended the half on a 22-9 run, raining in five 3-pointers over the final 5:29 for a 47-29 lead at the half.
The lead reached 32 at 65-33 just eight minutes into the second half.