AIKEN, S.C. – Saturday's opening round NCAA Division II National Tournament matchup between Georgia Southwestern and Montevallo proved to be an instant classic, as there were swings in momentum that led both sides to think victory was imminent, but after two overtimes it was the 18th-ranked Falcons who advanced, 97-88, to the Round of 32.
The Peach Belt Conference foes split their two meetings earlier this season with each side winning on their respective home court. So Saturday's matchup in the Southeast Regional at the USC Aiken Convocation Center was expected to be a close game.
It didn't look like it was heading in that direction early on.
In the first half, Montevallo relied heavily on their starting five. Troran Brown, Ryan May, Shykeem Jackson, Larry Slaughter, and Orlando Brazier scored all 40 of the Falcons' first-half points. Montevallo led 40-33 at the break.
UM opened up the second frame on a 7-0 run, bumping their lead to 14 points with 17:24 remaining in regulation.
GSW was quick to respond. Kevin Burnell hit a pair from long range during an 11-3 run that took less than three minutes and pulled the Hurricanes within six, 50-44.
The Hurricanes continued to chip away at the deficit and when Johathan Brooks knocked down a shot from beyond the arc at the 11:12 mark, GSW had pulled within a point, 54-53, less than six minutes after trailing by 14.
From that point on, the gap between the two teams never reached more than six, with Southwestern constantly nipping at Montevallo's heels.
An Alan Arnett layup with just under three minutes left in regulation evened up the game. It was the first time in the second half that the Hurricanes were able to force a tie.
Montevallo retook the lead and was up by five with 1:39 to play. GSW answered with five unanswered points and then was able to respond to a Brazier put-back layup with a Darius Redding jumper with four seconds left sending the game to overtime.
Brazier opened overtime with a dunk, but the momentum would be short-lived for the Falcons, as the Hurricanes responded with 12-4 run to go ahead ahead by six with 1:19 left in the extra period. When Arnett fouled out with only 1:08 remaining it looked like his departure would not hurt the Hurricanes, but five unanswered points by Brown drew the Falcons to within one. A Redding dunk with 19 seconds left put GSW back on top by three.
With the season on the line, May broke free for a wide-open 3-pointer with four seconds left, forcing double overtime.
In the second overtime, UM held the Hurricanes scoreless and earned the 97-88 win. The last time GSW played a two-overtime game was Dec. 14, 2011, at Clayton State.
Daryl Davis had a monstrous game in his final NCAA contest. The GSW senior posted his fourth double-double of the season by scoring 24 points and pulling down a career-high 13 rebounds, which included seven boards on the offensive end. He added two blocks and hit two clutch 3-point baskets in the first half to keep GSW in the game.
Brooks generated his second-best scoring night of the season, finishing with 23 points. The senior was 4 of 7 from beyond the arc in the second half and he pulled down nine rebounds. Redding, playing in his first game since Feb. 1, added 15 points and five assists coming off the bench. Arnett chipped in 12 points and two steals in his collegiate finale.
For the first time this season (14-1), the Hurricanes lost a game where they out-rebounded their opponent. GSW made 11 shots from 3-point range, their most in a game this season, but was held to 15 free throw attempts, not quite equaling half the number of attempts taken by UM (31).
Brown led all scorers with 27 points. In two previous meetings this season, Brown had scored a combined 22 points against the Hurricanes. May finished with 23 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the field, 50 percent shooting from three-point range, and 100 percent shooting at the line.
Article contributions provided by Montevallo Sports Information