February 27, 2008

Saints get by Lander 61-59 at the buzzer

North Georgia awaits first round opponent at PBC Tournament

GREENWOOD, SC – North Georgia College & State University watched a Bearcat jumper fall short at the buzzer to hold on and down Lander University 61-59 in the Peach Belt Conference regular season finale Wednesday evening in Horne Arena.

The Saints improved to 17-10 overall and 12-8 in the Peach Belt with the win while Lander fell to 9-17 overall and 6-13 in the PBC.

With the game on the line, Xavier Trice was fouled with 8.2 seconds left and hit the first of two free throws for a 61-59 lead. Evans drove inside and with two defenders draped on him, took a jumper from the left side of the basket in the final seconds that bounced off the rim, giving North Georgia the two-point road win.

Trice led North Georgia with 17 points, while Nick Pope scored 16, and Anthony Rowe added 12.

North Georgia closed the first half on an 11-2 run on two 3-pointers by Andre Morgan and one by Pope to close within 35-33 at halftime.

Evans hit a 3-pointer to stake the Bearcats to a 40-34 lead early in the second half. But North Georgia scored seven unanswered points, taking its first lead since the early stages of the game at 41-40 on Lee Burrell’s free throw with 14:51 to go.

Lawrence put Lander back on top with a 3-pointer and Milner scored in the paint, giving the hosts a 46-41 advantage. The Saints rattled off nine unanswered points, taking the lead on Andrew Bennett’s basket and going up 50-46 with 8:09 left on Rowe’s three-point play.

Lander tied the game at 50 with seven minutes left on Sparrow’s free throw and Lawrence’s 3-pointer. Pope’s 3-pointer put North Georgia back on top, 53-50, but the Bearcats tied the game at 53 with 5:33 left on a Harris basket and Milner free throw.

The Saints went back on top on Pope’s jumper and Trice’s 3-pointer, making it 58-53 with 4:23 to go. Lander’s Harris and North Georgia’s Trice traded baskets and the visitors still led by five, 60-55.

The Bearcats got closer when Smith hit two free throws at the 2:13 mark and Milner scored on a put-back, pulling the Bearcats within 60-59 with 1:21 left. After the Saints were called for an offensive foul, Milner missed inside and North Georgia got the defensive rebound with approximately 30 seconds left which set up the late free throws by Trice and Saints win at the buzzer.

For the game, The Saints hit 22 of 51 shots from the floor (43 percent), 10 of 15 free throws (67 percent), and seven of 19 from behind the arc (37 percent). Lander had a 39-29 edge on the boards.

North Georgia will await the announcement of its first round opponent in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament which will be announced Sunday night by the conference office. With tonight's win and Armstrong's overtime loss to Francis Marion, the Saints have locked up the number four seed and will play one of a trio of teams in the opening round.