COLUMBUS - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team clawed back from an early 10-point deficit and took the lead at the half only to have UNC Pembroke pull away in the second period behind 54 percent shooting and defeat the Hurricanes, 84-72, Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
GSW finishes the season with a record of 13-14. With the victory, the East Division's top-seeded Braves improve to 21-8 on the season and will face Montevallo on Saturday.
Senior Milos Kleut was a perfect 8 of 8 from the floor in his final collegiate contest and booked a game-high 18 points for Hurricanes. Alan Arnett had 16 points off the bench to go with a team-high six rebounds. Jamon Hawkins pitched in 15 points and senior Matt Shaw added 12.
UNCP's Brandon Winford led a balanced offensive effort with 18 points. K.J. Cooper hit three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, while Shahmel Brackett netted 12 and George Blakeney posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
In the first half, UNCP opened up as much as a 10-point lead on a Blakeney layup at the 6:56 mark. The Hurricanes battled back with eight straight points, and a steal and 3-point play from Arnett pulled GSW within 28-25 in just a span of 1:08. The Braves countered with five straight points, and another Blakeney layup put UNCP up 33-26 advantage with 4:07 left.
The 'Canes then closed the half on an 8-0 run for a 34-33 lead at the half. Kleut and Arnett combined for the final four buckets, all on layups. UNCP went scorless over the final 4:07, misfiring on the final five attempts from the field.
Pembroke led by as many as 13 with 6:12 left but the 'Canes remained within striking distance. A pair of Arnett free throws pulled the 'Canes within 71-62 and then Hawkins drained a trey from the left wing to close the gap to 72-65. Following a timeout, UNCP's Brackett and Arnett swapped driving layups.
UNCP sealed the victory with a Brackett 3-pointer from the left baseline and a jam and free throw from Winford in the final minute.
GSW shot 52.1 percent from the field, but connected on just 3 of 15 3-point attempts (20.0 percent). In a battle of the top two rebounding teams in the conference, the Braves owned a decided advantage on the interior, registering a 41-24 edge on the glass. It was the Hurricanes their largest rebounding deficit of the season.
UNCP made six 3-pointers, including five in the second half, and shot at a 48.4 percent clip (31-of-64).