March 7, 2008

Saints edge Pirates 88-86 in PBC Tourney debut

AIKEN, SC - Senior guard Jakirra Millsap scored a team-high 24 points, including two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, to lift North Georgia College & State University to an exciting 88-86 win over Armstrong Atlantic State University, Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The Saints improve to 18-10, win their first-ever game in the PBC Tournament, and advance to the tournament semifinals on Saturday at 8 p.m. against the USC Aiken/Lander winner.

Millsap was 13 of 14 at the foul line including the two shots that broke an 86-86 deadlock. Junior frontline players Xavier Trice and Anthony Rowe each scored 18 points, while guard Andre Morgan added 16 points. Rowe also hauled down a team-high nine rebounds.

Senior guard Corey Johnson paced AASU (17-11) with 28 points and seven rebounds, while reserve swingman T.T. Hall came off the Pirate bench to score 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

Following Millsap’s two charity tosses, AASU’s Johnson raced the ball up the court but slipped to the floor and a jump ball was called. Johnson was injured on the play and had to leave the floor. The Pirates retained possession, but following the in-bounds pass, AASU failed to get off as potential tying shot as the ball was twice knocked away by North Georgia defenders.

The Saints, who shot 51.7 percent in the opening half, led 41-32 at intermission. Five minutes into the second stanza, the margin remained at nine (51-42). Johnson and Hall then fueled a 14-4 AASU rally that erased the deficit and gave the Pirates a 56-55 lead with 10:34 left.

North Georgia then regained the lead, and following two Millsap free throws, the Saints led 82-76 with 1:12 remaining. An acrobatic lay-in by Johnson that resulted in a three-point play with 22.7 ticks left brought AASU to within 85-84. Following one free throw by North Georgia’s LaBrian Lyons with 21.4 seconds on the clock, Johnson tied the contest at 86-86 on a layup with 10 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Millsap was fouled in the backcourt and he drained the game-deciding shots.

North Georgia finished the game 28 of 34 at the free throw line.

Quotes:

NGCSU Head Coach Chris Faulkner:
“It turned out to be a great basketball game. I felt Armstrong did a great job in the second half of picking up the defensive pressure which gave us a little bit of problems on the offensive end. On the other end, they just tried to penetrate us a lot and we were able to withstand that, thankfully”

“The way Armstrong defends and comes at you they really force you to make plays. We talked about that the whole game to encourage our guards to keep attacking and keep attacking.”

Jakirra Milsap on possibility of playing USC Aiken in the next round:
“It’ll be tough. They’re a really good team. Aiken’s big on their guard play and we’re big on our guard play, so we match up with them well.”