MILLEDGEVILLE - The last three men's basketball meetings between Georgia Southwestern and Georgia College had been decided by a combined eight points, so there was little surprise that Tuesday night's game at the Centennial Center was a neck-and-neck affair that ended with the Hurricanes grinding out a 63-59 victory.
GSW has won three-in-a-row and improved its mark to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in the Peach Belt Conference. Georgia College drops to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the PBC.
In a series that has been controlled by Georgia College since GSW joined the NCAA ranks in 2006-07, the Hurricanes earned only their second win in 13 meetings with the Bobcats, but both victories have come in the last five games.
The Bobcats scored the first seven points of the game and put GSW in a hole early. Scott Ferguson connected on a jumper with 14:01 left in the first half to give GC its biggest lead of the night at 14-5.
GSW answered with a 15-4 run over the next eight minutes, capped by a Daryl Davis layup at the 6:04 mark, to grab its first lead at 20-19. Davis accounted for six of GSW's final nine points of the half and lifted the 'Canes to a 27-25 halftime advantage.
Back-and-forth the two sides would go over the opening seven and a half minutes of the second half exchanging the lead 10 times. An Alan Arnett jumper with 12:27 to play not only put the 'Canes up 41-40, but would prove to be the final lead change of the night.
Tyler Gunnett dropped a jumper with 7:48 to go and connected on a pair of free throws two minutes later to give GSW a team-high eight-point lead on both occasions. Gunnett and Matt Shaw combined for all 10 of GSW's points over the final eight minutes.
Hurricanes head coach Mike Leeder received a complete team effort with four players scoring in double figures. Shaw and Milos Kleut scored 11 points apiece and combined to make 8 of 13 shots. Gunnett and Arnett both came off the bench to add 10 points apiece and Davis was right behind with nine points. Kleut came up a rebound short of a double-double after grabbing a game-high nine boards.
Ferguson led all scorers with 16 points. Aaron Robinson added 13 and David Wagner chipped in 10 for the Bobcats.
GSW controlled the inside with a 36-16 points in the paint advantage and a 38-29 rebounding edge. Major bench contributions from Gunnett, Arnett and Davis gave the Hurricanes a substantial 29-10 advantage in bench points.
Something had to give as the Hurricanes came into the contest ranked third in the PBC in field goal percentage and GC had the lowest opponents field goal percentage in the league while also ranking ninth in the country in NCAA Division II. GSW shot over 50 percent in the second half for the third time this season and finished the game at 47.1 percent, 10 points higher than the Bobcats opponents average.
Southwestern returns home to host Clayton State on Saturday afternoon. Tip time is set for 3:30 p.m. in the Storm Dome.