By Chris Whitaker
The Americus Times-Recorder
DAHLONEGA — Phillip Brown's free throw with 5.6 seconds remaining put the finishing touches on another long game for Georgia Southwestern.
After falling in three overtimes on Wednesday at home to Georgia College, the Hurricanes were taken to another three-overtime thriller on Saturday at North Georgia.
Brown had his best game of the season, scoring 25 points and grabbing 22 rebounds to lift GSW to a 76-74 win against the Saints.
Evan Mobley scored 20, and Colin Slotter added 19 as GSW clinched at least a share of the West Division title.
"I thought it was a tremendous bounce back win," said coach Mike Leeder. "One thing we haven't done is lost games in a row, and we found a way to win. It looked bad at the end of both overtimes, and even in the third overtime we were in trouble. Guys make plays in this league, and Phillip stepped up and made big plays and it showed tonight."
Mobley missed a pair of free throws with just over a second remaining in regulation that would have broken a 50-50 tie. Slotter's free throw tied the game at the end of the first overtime, 55-55, and Mobley's 3-pointer tied it in the second overtime at 65-65.
Another Mobley 3-pointer put GSW up 71-69, but North Georgia's Carl Taylor answered with about a 35-footer — his third 3-pointer of the game — with 1:20 remaining to put the Saints back on top.
Brown muscled in the go-ahead basket, Slotter added two free throws and Brown's last one helped GSW (18-6, 11-4) escape. One more win, and GSW will win the West outright.
"Evan was able to flush those free throws by making three 3s in overtime," said Leeder. "It was back and forth and both teams were making plays. We're fortunate to get out of there with a win tonight."
The Hurricanes led by as many as six in the second half when Taylor's three tied the game at 48-48 with 1:50 remaining in regulation. Taylor led four Saints in double figures with 19 points.
After missing their first free throw in overtime, the Saints (9-15, 6-9) made their next seven.
GSW was 15 of 28 at the line for the game, a season-low 53.8 percent.
"Our inability to make free throws hurt us," said Leeder. "We put them on the foul line down the stretch and they knocked them down. On the defensive end, when we had to get stops, we were outstanding."
North Georgia was held to 35 percent shooting while GSW shot 40 percent.
GSW has home games remaining with Columbus State on Wednesday and Clayton State on Saturday. After consecutive three-overtime games, Leeder said there's only one motivating factor.
"We kept talking about today that no matter, if we make a play, we're (West Division) co-champions," he said. "It's a tremendous testament from where we were at this time last year. Win one more home game, and we win the West outright. I think the guys are excited about it, and I hope it will carry the guys through Wednesday because I know we'll still be tired. For the first time in school history, we're co-champions in a conference, and I'm thrilled for these guys."