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Second Half Shooting Struggles Sink Hurricanes

AIKEN, S.C. – Josh Birchfield posted his third double-double of the season for Georgia Southwestern on Jan. 17, but it wasn’t enough as the Hurricanes lost to USC Aiken, 64-54, in the Convocation Center.

Birchfield accounted for game highs in points (25) and rebounds (13).

The Hurricanes had their two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 7-8 overall, 2-6 in the Peach Belt Conference while USC Aiken improved to 9-8 overall and 4-4 in conference play.

USC Aiken opened the game with a 9-1 run. GSW scored its first field goal of the evening when Damien Leonard sank a 3-pointer with 15:59 left in the half. The Hurricanes offense went quiet again until Birchfield snapped another 4-minute scoreless drought with a bucket at the 11:28 mark to pull GSW within 12-6.

The Pacers led 21-14 with 5:12 remaining in the half but GSW closed out the period on a 15-5 run to take a 29-26 lead into the locker room. 

USC Aiken scored the first six points of the second half and GSW never led again.

The Hurricanes were held to eight field goals over the final 20 minutes. Birchfield accounted for five of the made baskets. While Birchfield connected on 5 of 7 attempts from the floor in the second half, the rest of the Hurricanes struggled from all angles. GSW (minus Birchfield) was 3 of 14 from 3-point range (21.4%), 5 of 10 from the free throw line (50%) and 0 of 5 from inside the arc.

Solid defense kept the Hurricanes in the game. GSW finished with a higher shooting percentage (38.5%) than USCA (35.1%) and grabbed seven more rebounds, 41-34, but committed 10 more turnovers, 20-10. The Pacers had five more steals, 8-3, and blocked four more shots, 6-2, than the Hurricanes.

Leonard finished with 14 points and five rebounds.

Early led USCA with 21 points and seven rebounds. Albert Miller III knocked down all three of his attempts from beyond the arc and finished with 11 points.

Southwestern returns home to host Armstrong on Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.