AIKEN, S.C. – Being short-handed due to injuries was one of the many challenges the Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes faced in their Saturday evening road match-up against the USC Aiken Pacers (14-3, 8-1 PBC). With the mantra of "next man up", the Blue & Gold would shoot themselves in the foot via a season-high 26 turnovers and drop the decision by a score of 81-74.
The turnover bug hit the Georgia Southwestern offense early and often. The epidemic was highlighted by the fact the Hurricanes had more turnovers (26) than made field goals (24). The usually-stout GSW defense struggled to get consistent stops as they would finish the game without a block shot and only five steals.
The Hurricanes shot a respectable 24-52 (46.2%) from the field, 11-22 (50.0%) from three-point range and 15-20 (75.0%) from the charity stripe. But the good shooting wasn't enough to overcome the 38 Pacer points off of turnovers and their 54.5% shooting from the field.
Two nights after scoring a career-high 32 points, senior guard Evan Mobley would score 30 points on 9-17 shooting. Sophomore Colin Slotter would also get into the scoring act for GSW as he scored 24 points, which tied his season high. Slotter also scored 24 points against Palm Beach Atlantic back in November.
For USC Aiken, it was a balanced attack. Aiken had five double-digit scorers, which were led by Rick Alderman with 17 points. Also scoring in double figures Ronald Zimmerman (16 points), Re'mon Nelson (15 points), Chase Holmes (ten points) and Joel Gierbolini (ten points).
The game began with Evan Mobley picking up where he left off Saturday night. The senior opened the game with three made baskets from behind the arc. It was an early encore to his career-high 32 points two nights earlier at Augusta State. GSW made four of their first five shots, but the shooting was minimized by seven GSW turnovers in the game's first five minutes.
By the game's second media timeout with 9:51 to go until the halftime break, GSW trailed by a score of 15-16. This was due in large part to their twelve turnovers in the first ten minutes of play. Mobley's eleven early points helped the Hurricanes get out of the gate with six of ten shooting from the field.
The game would go into the halftime break with USC Aiken leading GSW 40-33 compliments of their early hot shooting. Aiken would go into the break shooting 59.1% from the field, which was coupled with 90.9% shooting from the foul line.
GSW shot the ball well, but not quite as well. The Blue & Gold made 48% of their field goal attempts including 5-10 from three-point range. Yet 18 GSW turnovers were converted into 25 USC Aiken points off turnovers, which contributed to the seven-point halftime deficit.
Mobley lead all scorers with 18 points, which accounted for 54.5% of the Hurricanes' scoring in the first half. Behind Mobley was Colin Slotter with eight points.
USC Aiken was led by Ronald Zimmerman who scored eleven points in the first half on three of four shooting from the field. The Pacers also had a pair of players, Rick Alderman and Chase Holmes, who both scored eight points in the game's first half.
The second half would open the Hurricanes continuing to struggle with turnovers. The Pacers would take advantage by upping their lead from seven to 13 within five minutes to open the half. Despite tying their season high in turnovers (23) with 10:45 left to play, GSW would pull to within six points thanks to a Milos Kluet up-and-under score and a Colin Slotter breakaway lay-up.
The Pacer lead was at ten with four minutes to play when lone, remaining post player, Milos Kleut, would foul out after going for seven points and nine rebounds. The Aiken lead would hover around that ten point difference until the final minute.
Georgia Southwestern would trail by as little as three points in the final minute as the Hurricanes elected to foul after made three-pointers, which was successful as the Pacers missed a handful o f free throws in the final 60 seconds. But the "Hack-a-Pacer" strategy would give way after GSW began missing shots and Aiken began making free throws to push the lead back to seven by game's end.
The loss puts the Georgia Southwestern at 11-5 overall, 2-5 in Peach Belt play. The Hurricanes will look to circle the wagons and regroup as they will play host to Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke on back-to-back days next weekend. Both Saturday's and Sunday's game will tip-off at 3:30 p.m. inside the Storm Dome.