Saints' Second-Half Rally Keeps Cougars Quiet
– The North Georgia men’s basketball team faced an
eight-point halftime deficit Saturday evening, but used a 14-1 run
to open the second period and hold off Columbus State University
62-56 at the Lumpkin Center in Peach Belt Conference action.
North Georgia picks up their first road victory of the season and have now won three of their last four games, improving to 6-6 on the season, while picking up their first Peach Belt Conference victory of the season to move to 1-1 in the league’s West Division.
Columbus State falls to 6-4 on the season and drop their first conference game of the season, moving to 0-1 in the PBC’s West Division.
After a pair of ties early in the first half, Columbus State pulled away and led by as many as 12 points in the opening period on a three-pointer from Bryant Thomas at the 3:59 mark to give the Cougars a 31-29 advantage.
Carl Taylor pulled the Saints to within six points before halftime with a pair of free throws and a jump shot, but CSU’s Lamar Williams hit a layup with just with 21 seconds remaining to give the Cougars an eight-point advantage at 33-25 heading into intermission.
To open the second half, North Georgia clamped down on defense and started to put all the pieces together, using a 14-1 run over the first seven minutes to take a five-point lead at 39-34 with 12:54 remaining in the game. The Saints held Columbus State without a field goal for the first 7:25 of the second half until Chris Telesford hit a layup at the 12:35 mark.
After the Saints took their first lead of the game with 15:25 remaining on a bucket from Andrew Bennett, North Georgia would never trail, leading by as many as eight points at four different times before holding on for the six-point victory. Columbus State pulled as close as three points twice in the final 10 minutes, but the Saints’ pressure defense held the Cougars at bay down the stretch.
Andrew Bennett led all scorers with a career-high 24 points while pulling down seven rebounds. Bennett spearheaded the second-half rally with 19 of his points coming in the second period. The Moynihan brothers were the only other double figure scorers for the Saints as Pat and Michael both tallied 10 points apiece.
Donta Ridley led Columbus State with 12 points, while Telesford was the only other Cougar in double figures with 10 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes of action.
North Georgia held a 36-32 rebound advantage, while Columbus State turned the ball over 23 times to just 17 times for the Saints. The Cougars dominated down low, recording eight blocks to none for North Georgia.
North Georgia shot 41.1 percent from the field, 12.5 percent from three-point range, and 65.5 percent from the free throw line, while CSU was 44.4 percent from the floor, 25 percent from behind the arc, and 55.5 percent from the charity stripe.
North Georgia returns to action on next Wednesday evening with a trip to new league member the University of Montevallo. Tip-off against the Falcons is scheduled for 7:30 Eastern Standard Time.