'Canes lose second straight nail-biter
AMERICUS - Marcus Scott was a man on a mission.
The senior scored nine of Georgia Southwestern's last 17 points, but unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the last play drawn up for him resulted in a forced 3-pointer from Evan Mobley as GSW lost 65-64 to Clayton State on Wednesday.
Scott finished with a game-high 20 points as GSW (5-13, 1-8) has lost five in a row, including three by four points or less.
"It's kind of similar to the Lander game because we couldn't get a big stop," said coach Mike Leeder. "We missed a big shot in the corner, and we had a couple of opportunities to make plays, and we didn't make them tonight."
GSW lost 60-58 to Lander in overtime on Saturday after blowing a 3-point lead with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
This time, the Lakers caught the Hurricanes off guard with a zone defense on the final play.
"They jumped into a zone and threw us off a little bit, and we panicked a little bit," said Leeder. "We ran a set that was for man-to-man, and they don't play hardly any zone. Everyone ran at the ball, and it was not a very fluid last possession."
The Hurricanes trailed 27-26 at the half after attempting more threes (15) than twos (9). They were 9 of 24 overall and 3 of 15 behind the arc. A lot of possessions in the game ended with forced 3-pointers.
"We try to shrink the game and possess the ball," said Leeder. "We're trying to limit possessions as much as we can, and when you do, that puts guys in difficult spots offensively. That's the best way for us to manage the game.
"We could shoot sooner and play fast and get run out of the gym, or take 30 seconds off the clock and give ourselves an opportunity the last five to six minutes like we have the last seven games. That's the price we're paying."
Evan Mobley and Ric Roderick combined for 16 of GSW's first 18 points of the second half. After a Sedale McGee-Jones basket gave the Hurricanes a 54-49 lead, the Lakers went on a 13-2 run over the next 3:14 that was capped by Torrin Greene's third 3-pointer of the game. For a stretch, each time GSW scored, Clayton State answered with baskets from Greene, Brandon Robinson and Robert Murry.
GSW took a 64-63 lead on a Scott steal and layup with 1:41 remaining. After a jump ball and a couple of Clayton State timeouts, the Lakers turned to Timothy Downs, who got into the paint and drew a block from Roderick. Downs sunk both free throws - his only points of the game - to put Clayton State up for good.
GSW shot 53.6 percent in the second half, but Clayton State did it one better, making 56.5 percent of its shots.
Robinson and Greene led the Lakers with 15 points apiece. Murry had 14, and Jaquas Dobbs had 12.
Rawls had 13 points, and Roderick scored 11 for GSW.
The Hurricanes lost the rebounding edge 33-22 despite having a 15-14 advantage in second-chance points. They tied their season-best with only nine turnovers.
"I thought the inability to rebound the ball go us again," said Leeder. "That, and our ability to make a big play in the last two minutes of a game. When you're in a good conference, that's what separates winning teams from losing teams. We haven't made a big play whether it's offensively or defensively. We've really struggled at the finish of games."
Leeder wishes Scott would play with the drive he had the final 10 minutes every game.
"I wish I could bottle that and get it every time," he said. "We was the best player on the floor, no question. In an ideal world, he'd play like that every game. He's incredibly efficient when he does. He's a big, strong kid with the ability to handle the ball. This was his best all-around game since he's been here."
GSW will try to end the losing skid on Saturday at Montevallo. Tip is 4:30 p.m.