AMERICUS, Ga. – The Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes' conference portion of their 2011-12 season had taken a wrong turn and was beyond the help of a GPS. Coach Leeder and company were 2-7 in conference play and were on a four-game losing streak going into Wednesday's showdown with the North Georgia Saints (8-13, 3-7 PBC). Just as he's done the past two weeks, senior guard Evan Mobley put the team on his back and carried the Blue & Gold to a nail-biting 75-73 win.
Mobley, the native of Savannah, would score a career-high 33 points in addition to his four assists and three rebounds. It was the third time this season the Canes' point guard has reset his career high. Milos Kleut would register 18 points and seven rebounds in support of Mobley. Yet it was Mobley's passing that put the Hurricanes over the top in the final minute of the game.
With 31 seconds left in the game, it was sophomore guard Jamon Hawkins who was "Johnny On The Spot". Mobley would penetrate and kick the ball to his left to Hawkins. As Hawkins took the three-point shot, it was as former ESPN analyst Marc Jackson would say "Hand down… Man down". The Mobley-to-Hawkins connection would give GSW the 75-73 lead. The long ball would also give Hawkins a new career-high eleven points.
The score would hold as junior guard Tyler Gunnett would block North Georgia's Chaun Tinney last-minute three-pointer as time expired. It was quite a time for the six-foot two-inch guard to record his first career block.
The Hurricanes were able to grind out the win despite conceding an alarming 21 offensive rebounds and being out-rebounded 46-34. While Coach Leeder and company did record their lowest amount of turnovers on the year (ten turnovers), they were plagued by another familiar foe; free throw shooting. The Blue & Gold 19-33 (57.6%) from the charity stripe for the game.
The Hurricanes came out guns blazing as they jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the game's first 3:55. GSW would lead for the next fourteen minutes before North Georgia would put the Canes on tilt. The Saints would close out the final four and a half minutes of the first half on a 16-5 run, which gave them the 37-36 halftime lead.
Mobley (13 points) and Kleut (12 points) would lead the Hurricanes in scoring in the first half as the duo amassed 69.4% of GSW's scoring in the game's first 20 minutes. Eight Saints would score in the first half for North Georgia, which were led by Elijah Smith with nine points.
The one-point halftime deficit would be erased in the first minutes of the second half before North Georgia would regain control. The Saints would lead by single digits for much of the second half, and their lead would grow to as many eight points with 8:52 left to play. But it was all for not for the Saints as the Hurricanes would win the final two minutes of the game by a score of seven points to four points to claim victory.
The victory puts the Georgia Southwestern record to 12-7 (3-7 PBC) as the Hurricanes look to make a push back into the PBC Tournament picture with seven games remaining. The Canes will be back in action on Saturday, February 4th as they travel to Georgia College to take on the Bobcats at 3:30 p.m.