AMERICUS, Ga. -- Inspired by the cheers of more than 1,500 students in attendance from Sumter County Schools on Tuesday morning, the Georgia Southwestern State University men's basketball team shook off a five-point halftime deficit to pull away from Albany State University, 78-71, in the Storm Dome. The Hurricanes improved their record to 3-1 while Albany State fell to 0-12.
How It Happened: GSW held Albany State scoreless for over three minutes to start the game and jumped out to a 9-1 lead. John Mason sank a 3-pointer with 12:21 remaining in the first half to give the Hurricanes their largest lead of the opening session, 17-7. The Golden Rams answered with six consecutive points before Andre Statam delivered a 3-point basket of his own to temporarily halt the Albany State run and put GSW ahead, 20-13, but the Hurricanes offense went ice cold, coming up empty on its next six possessions over a four-minute span, to keep the score close.
Albany State eventually tied the game at 27-27 when Rahdin Hughes hit a 3-pointer with 2:33 left before the halftime break. Hughes gave Albany State its first lead of the morning when he sank a jumper on the ensuing possession. The Golden Rams led 34-29 at the half.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Devin Watson quickly pulled the Hurricanes within a basket, 39-37, in the opening two minutes of the second half and Hasaan Buggs evened the score on the Hurricanes next trip down the floor. Buggs then found Quenten Taylor for a layup on GSW's next possession and the Hurricanes held the lead the rest of the way, stretching their advantage to as many as 16 points, 59-43, with 11:07 to play.
Albany State had one final push left, and a 17-4 run late brought some uneasiness to the GSW faithful as the Hurricanes lead was only three points, 69-66, with 2:36 to go. Dajion Macklien delivered the clutch shot, a 3-pointer with 1:43 left, to give GSW a little breathing room and a six-point advantage. Macklien and Taylor combined to sink four consecutive free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
GSW drained 60 percent (18 of 30) of its shots in the second half to hold off Albany State. Turnovers again plagued the Hurricanes as they matched their season high with 17 and Albany State converted the miscues into 27 points.
Who Stood Out: Watson and Statam both finished with 17 points to tie for the game high. Watson hit 3 of 5 from long range and Statam drilled 3 of 6. Statam added a game-high eight rebounds. Buggs improved his season shooting percentage to a team-best 62.1 percent after making 5 of 8 shots on Tuesday en route to 13 points. Taylor scored 12, all in the second half.
Up Next: GSW begins a three-game road trip on Thursday at Fort Valley State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.