FORT VALLEY, Ga. -- Sophomore Jamari Dean posted his first career double-double to lead the Georgia Southwestern State University men's basketball team past Fort Valley State University, 72-68, Tuesday evening in the HPE Arena.
How It Happened: The Hurricanes picked up the win in their season opener and debut for new head coach Aaron Coombs.
Neither side could get any separation in the first half. After three ties and seven lead changes, Fort Valley State opened up a seven-point advantage, its largest lead of the night, 27-20, with 6:31 to go in the first half. GSW pulled within two by the 3:19 mark and trailed by that same margin at halftime, 34-32.
It took more than three minutes to get the first points of the second half on the board as both teams struggled to score out of the break. Dean eventually knocked down the first basket with 16:55 on the clock. Following a score by Fort Valley State on its next trip down the floor, Dean scored again to tie the game at 36-36, and kick off an 8-0 run. The Hurricanes never trailed again. Senior Abdul Dial put GSW ahead for good with a pair of free throws with 15:02 to play. The Hurricanes led by as many as 11 points with 8:06 on the clock, but had to hold on as the Wildcats chipped away and eventually pulled within two points with three seconds remaining before Solomon Thomas sealed the victory with a pair of free throws.
GSW missed all seven of its 3-point attempts in the first half and was held to 1 of 11 from long range for the game. GSW made adjustments at the break and took its offensive attack inside the arc where the Hurricanes connected on 52.4 percent (11 of 21) over the final 20 minutes. Fort Valley State dished out three more assists, 14-11, and drained more from 3-point range, 7-1, but GSW held the rebounding advantage, 42-37, and led in points in the paint, 46-34.
Who Stood Out: Dean scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the first half. Junior Jalen Cameron played 35 minutes off the bench after an early injury to starting forward Baris Ulker. Cameron made 5 of 9 shots, 7 of 11 from the free throw line and finished with 17 points. Dial added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Thomas chipped in 12 points.
Fort Valley State (1-2) was led by K'Viontae Williams with 17 points. Tristan Davis grabbed eight rebounds.
Up Next: The GSW home opener is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Middle Georgia State University.