MONTEAVALLO, Ala.- After picking up their first home and away victories of the season, the Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team looked to capture their first neutral site victory against North Alabama on the campus of the University of Montevallo on Friday afternoon. The Hurricanes' 65-63 victory pushed their record to 4-0, which is the program's best start to a season since becoming a Division II member and joining the Peach Belt Conference in the 2006-07 season.
It was a tale of two halves for the Hurricanes as GSW would go into the half with a twelve point lead before losing that lead in the second half. The Hurricanes would trail by a point with 2:38 left before walking away with the victory.
Georgia Southwestern was led by Phillip Brown who ended the night with 22 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three assists. Colin Slotter also scored in double digits wit ten points to go along with his five rebounds.
In a battle of styles, the post-oriented Hurricanes pounded the paint for an early 15-7 lead over the perimeter-oriented Lions in the game's first eight minutes. The Blue & Gold would push that lead to 12 points over the next four minutes after dogging the jump-shooting Lions into 29% shooting from the field. Coach Leeder and company pushed it to twelve points by half's end with a 36-24 score.
The GSW defense denied North Alabama from operating their offense in any sort of rhythm, which forced the Lions into 27% shooting on 10-37 from the field in the half. The Hurricanes also recorded four blocks and a steal in the game's first 20 minutes. The battle of the boards also went to the Canes as they out-rebounded the Lions by nine rebounds (26-17).
Offensively Georgia Southwestern shot 48% from the field, registered eight assists on 13 made baskets while earning 13 trips to the foul line to UNA's two. The Blue & Gold also got eleven second chance points and eleven points from the bench in the first half. Phillip Brown led all players with 15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two assists. He was supported by fellow starter Matt Shaw's eight points and three rebounds, and Colin Slotter chipped in six points, three rebounds and an assist coming off the bench in the half.
The Lions' first half was highlighted by Theron Jenkins who recorded eight points and three rebounds. He was one of six players to score for North Alabama.
The second half began with a series of missteps for both offenses as neither team would score in the half's first three and a half minutes. GSW would be whistled for seven team fouls in four minutes to put the Lions in the bonus with 16 minutes remaining. After North Alabama cut the lead to seven points at the 15:47 mark, GSW would push the lead to 14 points before the Lions would counter to cut it to eight points with eleven minutes remaining.
North Alabama would continue their push as it turned into a 19-6 Lion run that would cut the GSW lead to a little as one point over a six minute span. Four minutes of neck and neck action would end with North Alabama taking their first lead of the second half on a Beaumont Beasley jumped by a score of 58-57 at the 3:23 mark.
The final 3:23 of the game would end on an 8-5 GSW run, which included two timely makes at the free throw line by Marlon Rivera in the game's final minute. They were the senior point guard's only two attempts on the evening. The game would end when Theron Jenkins would miss a desperation three-point heave with .4 seconds remaining in the game.
Missed free throws haunted the Hurricanes all evening as they ended the night shooting 58.8% on 20-34 shooting. The charity stripe woes were even more prevalent in the second half as GSW shot three of seven from the line in the game's final four minutes. In the story of two halves for the GSW offense, they followed their 48.1% first half shooting with 8-23 (34.8%) shooting in the second half on the way to a 42% shooting night. The Blue & Gold also doubled their turnovers in the second half committing twelve to just six in the first half.
UNA's Theron Jenkins would end the night as the game's high scorer with 26 points to go along with nine rebounds, three steals and a block. The forward was a one-man offense for the Lions as he was the only North Alabama player to score in double digits.
The Hurricanes (4-0) will play their second game in as many days in day two of the Coca-Cola Classic. They will play Palm Beach Atlantic at 2 pm Central time on the campus of Montevallo Saturday afternoon.