March 5, 2008

North Georgia advances with 74-64 win over GCSU

AIKEN, SC - Making their Peach Belt Conference Tournament debut, the Lady Saints of North Georgia were victorious in their first-ever tournament game with a 74-64 victory over Georgia College in the second first-round game of the 2008 Peach Belt Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at the USC-Aiken Convocation Center.

Eighth-seeded North Georgia, which improves to 17-11 overall, advances to Thursday's Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday at 5 p.m. against top-seeded Francis Marion at the USC-Convocation Center. Georgia College ends its season at 13-15.

The Lady Saints of head coach Buffie Burson played a near-flawless first half. North Georgia shot 52 percent from the field, including a blistering 83 percent (5-for-6) from 3-point range, while holding Georgia College to a mere 20 percent shooting from the field..

Paced by the play of Syretha Marble and Megan Huffman, North Georgia built up a double-digit lead for much of the first half. Marble drained a 3-point basket at the 5:26 mark to make the Lady Saint lead 25-13. Huffman later drained a 3-point basket, and the North Georgia's lead was 32-21 with 2:50 remaining. The Lady Saints took their largest lead of the game at halftime, 41-21, on Marble's jump shot with 17 seconds remaining.

In the second half, however, head coach John Carrick's Lady Bobcats came alive. After North Georgia increased its lead to 21 points, Georgia College got back into the game with a 16-4 run. Elicia Lynch started the rally with a 3-point basket at the 15:31 mark, and then back-to-back 3-point baskets by Mandi Dudish cut the North Georgia lead to 54-45 with 10:56 remaining.

North Georgia increased its lead back to 13 points on another 3-point basket by Huffman, only to see Georgia College mount another rally. A 3-point basket by Lynch trimmed the Lady Saint lead to 66-62 with 2:09 remaining, but that was as close as the Lady Bobcats would get.

Huffman paced North Georgia with 19 points as the Lady Saints had four players score in double-figures. Marble was next with 18 points, while Kourtney Singleton scored 15 points and Brooke Baker added 12 points. For the game, the Lady Saints shot 47 percent from the field and a whopping 64 percent from 3-point range.

For Georgia College, Lynch scored 22 points on six 3-point baskets, while Lindsey Smith scored 11 points and Tiauna Brantley scored 10 points.


North Georgia Head Coach Buffie Burson:
"Its feels great to finally play after sitting out for two years and to get a win.  We played a little bit of survival there in the second half and I'm just really glad we won."

"I thought we did a really good job (of shooting), especially in the last 10 minutes.  We had some big threes and moved the ball a lot better for the last part of the first half than we did in the second half."

(On GCSU's second half comeback): "Turnovers.  We had a lot of turnovers in the first half too, but the timing of it was off.  I'm not sure if fatigue set in, I thought we were a little careless and there's no way GCSU is going away."

North Georgia's Megan Huffman.
"In the first half there's so much more adrenaline because we haven't played in this tournament.  But in the second half we just had to get everything together more."

(On her three-point shooting): "I just thought that if I could get them into rhythm in our offense I could knock them down.  I just felt like I was hurting us a little bit, turnover-wise, and I had to step up. "

North Georgia's Syretha Marble
(On NGCSU's first tournament appearance): "I think we were excited to be here and its even better to come in and be the first North Georgia team to play and the first North Georgia team to get a win."