January 21, 2012

True Grit

AUGUSTA, Ga. – It was a week of "leapfrogging" last week for the Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes. Their wins over Armstrong Atlantic and Flagler in three days propelled GSW from last place in the PBC Western Division to third. That momentum wouldn't carry over with the Hurricanes during their trip to Augusta State University (10-7, 6-3 PBC). Georgia Southwestern would lose 57-52 Saturday evening to the host Jaguars.

Short-handed via fouls and injuries, the Hurricanes gave a hero's effort to erase a one-time 16-point lead and then lead by as many as four points in the second half. Nothing embodied the moxy and resolve of the Canes more than senior guard Evan Mobley. The Savannah native took the team on his back and scored a career-high 32 points on six of ten shooting from beyond the arc and a perfect six of six from the free throw line. 21 of his 32 points would come in the second half as Mobley brought the Hurricanes back from the brink of death.

The Hurricanes' downfall came via their 24 total team fouls, 19 turnovers and an early 16-point deficit that took much of their effort to try and erase. The Blue & Gold couldn't slow down Augusta State forward Harold Dolby who tallied 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Furthermore, the Augusta State defense recorded eight blocks and six steals.

Georgia Southwestern struggled to cope with Augusta State's zone defense in the early, which was fueled with early turnovers. Georgia Southwestern turned it over on the in-bound play coming out of the game's first media timeout, which was turned into a made three-pointer by Augusta State giving them the 11-4 after six and a half minutes of play.

That run was punctuated further by the Jaguars who pushed their lead to 16 over the next five minutes. Hurricanes struggled mightily scoring only eight points in the game's first ten minutes. Their early turnovers were converted for dunks by the Jaguars, which got the home team crowd involved to further GSW's struggles.

Georgia Southwestern would weather the Jaguar haymaker by clamping down defensively. By halftime the one-time 16-point ASU lead would be cut in half by a score of 31-23. It was the lowest scoring first half of the season for the Hurricanes. Their offensive woes were highlight by the fact they did not score on back-to-back possessions during the entire first half. In addition to that, GSW shot 7-23 (30%) from the field, turned it over twelve times and allowed ASU to shoot 50% from the field.

Georgia Southwestern was led by Evan Mobley with eleven points in the first half. Milos Kleut tallied five points and four rebounds in his 13 first-half minutes. Augusta State had the first half's leading scorer in Harold Dolby with 13 points. He was supported by O'Neal Armstrong's eight first half points.

By the first media timeout of the second half, Augusta State's eight-point halftime lead was down to six points courtesy of good defense and opportunistic transition offense. The early second-half offense was spearheaded by Evan Mobley. A six-point lead turned to three points as Mobley and company continued to show grit on both ends. Mobley would bury three-pointers to give GSW the lead 44-43.

The one-point lead would grow to four points via a Evan Mobley three-point play with 5:28 remaining. The lead would not hold up as the Blue & gold would go the final 4:11 without a field goal as GSW would eventually drop the 57-52 decision.

It won't get any easier as the Hurricanes will face the USC Aiken Pacers in South Carolina on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. GSW will look to improve their 11-4 (2-4 PBC) record.

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