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GSW Men Can’t Keep 13th-Ranked UNC Pembroke Down

AMERICUS – The 13th-ranked UNC Pembroke men’s basketball team rallied from a 13-point first half deficit to defeat Georgia Southwestern, 79-72, on Jan. 24 in the Storm Dome.

The Hurricanes have lost two of their last three games as their record falls to 8-9 overall, 3-7 in Peach Belt Conference play. The loss puts GSW three games behind North Georgia for the fourth, and final, seed out of the west division for the post-season PBC Tournament. UNC Pembroke improves to 17-2 overall and 8-2 in conference play.

The opening four-plus minutes provided a fairly even exchange. Quamain Rose answered a GSW 3-pointer from Deric Rudolph with one of his own to put the Braves ahead 10-9 with 15:42 left before the halftime break.

GSW countered with a trio of 3-pointers during a 12-2 run to grab a 21-12 lead at the 13:02 mark. The Hurricanes advantage hovered just below double digits until the clock approached the six-minute mark when GSW capped a 6-0 run with a layup from Darius Redding. Southwestern held it’s largest lead of the afternoon, 13 points, at 35-22.

The Hurricanes squashed any thoughts of a late first-half rally from UNCP by holding the Braves scoreless over the final 1:57. Damien Leonard knocked down a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to propel GSW into the locker room with a 40-32 lead.

Redding opened the second period with a dunk to push the GSW margin back to double digits. UNCP answered with a game-changing 19-2 run capped by a Brandon Watts 3-pointer with 13:53 to play.

GSW took the lead one final time, 65-63, with a Redding layup at the 5:33 mark. The Braves responded with eight unanswered points, aided by a pair of GSW turnovers, and held on until the final horn.    

The Hurricanes finished with a higher shooting percentage (51.9 percent) than UNCP (50.8 percent) and dished out four more assists, 17-13, but the largest disparity on the stat sheet came in the rebounding category where UNCP won the battle on boards, 37-21. It was GSW’s lowest rebounding total in a game this season.

Rudolph connected on 5 of 9 attempts from beyond the arc on the way to his game-high 19 points. Rudolph, who entered the game ranked fourth in NCAA Division II with 3.88 3-pointers per game, dropped five 3-pointers in a game for the eighth time this season. Redding added 11 points, five rebounds and a game-high six assists. Darius Hoistenhad his best game as a Hurricane. Hoisten made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc while scoring 11 second-half points to keep GSW within striking distance down the stretch.

Southwestern solidified it’s No. 1 ranking in the PBC by shooting better than its 42.5 percent season average from 3-point range. GSW connected on 10 of 20 Saturday.

Brandon Winford paced UNCP with 17 points and eight rebounds. Griffin Pittman chipped in 16 and Ben Jacobs came off the bench to make 7 of 10 shots on the way to his 14-point afternoon.

Southwestern travels to Clayton State on Jan. 28 for a 7:30 p.m. game.