AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team did its part to extend the home portion of its season by ending regulation on a 17-5 run and forcing overtime against Georgia College on Senior Night in the Storm Dome, only to fall 60-58.
In a game that was close throughout, it was the Hurricanes who held the largest lead of the first half at four points (8-4). The first 20 minutes of action saw seven ties and eight lead changes with the Bobcats taking a three-point advantage (23-20) into the locker room at the break.
GC took the first seven minutes of the second stanza to open its advantage to nine points (38-29) and eventually built the margin to a game-high 12 points (46-34) with 8:33 to play. As has been the case for most of the season, GSW did not go away quietly.
The Hurricanes held GC to two points over the next six minutes, outscoring the Bobcats 11-2 and pulling within three points (48-45) with 2:36 remaining. Tarrence Chatman picked a fine time to score his first points of the night when he drained a 3-pointer on GC's ensuing possession to stretch the lead back to six.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Marlon Rivera and Jamon Hawkins sandwiched a Chatman turnover and tied the game for GSW, eventually sending it to overtime. GC missed two shots in the final 30 seconds to win the game in regulation.
In the overtime, it was more of the same gritty basketball. The Blue & Gold had an answer for the Bobcats first three scores in the extra session and eventually took a one-point lead with 39 seconds to go when Milos Kleut converted a three-point play. Mike Augustine would play spoiler this time around for GC as his shot from beyond the arc with 16 seconds to go was the difference. The Hurricanes could not get off a clean shot in the closing seconds and GC (17-8, 10-6 PBC) won its fourth-straight contest while handing Southwestern its 10th loss in 11 games.
The Hurricanes were outrebounded 46-31, but held a 30-17 points in the paint advantage. Neither team shot particularly well as GC went 20 of 52 (38.5 percent) to the 'Canes 21 of 56 (37.5). Both sides did increase their percentages significantly in the second half, however, as GSW went from 26 percent to 46 percent and GC from 29 percent to 43 percent.
Kleut led Southwestern with a game-high 17 points to go with nine rebounds off the bench. He relieved All-American Phillip Brown who suited up for the first time since sustaining a meniscus injury at Augusta State on Jan. 21. The senior forward took the floor for the opening tip as a way of saying goodbye to Hurricane fans.
Fellow senior Evan Mobley added 16 points to his four-year tally in Americus, now at 1,344. Rivera scored 12, pulled down five boards and dished out five assists.
The Bobcats were led by Ryan Aquino with 15 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Augustine joined Aquino with a double-double as he scored 12 and grabbed 10 boards.
In a pregame ceremony, the Hurricanes recognized their four seniors: Will Kenimer, Rivera, Brown and Mobley.
GSW (12-13, 3-13 PBC) falls below .500 for the first time since dropping the opening game last season at Division I Kennesaw State on Nov. 11, 2010.
Southwestern closes out 2011-12 on Saturday at Columbus State.