AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team needed a third - and final - push in the closing minutes against Clayton State in the Storm Dome on Wednesday evening, but came up short in the closing four minutes and dropped a 54-49 decision.
The Hurricanes came back from seven points down in the first half to gain their first lead at 16-14 with 6:23 to go until halftime. In the second stanza, GSW trailed by as many as 12 points before regaining the lead at 41-40 with 5:23 left.
Clayton State quickly answered comeback #2 and eventually extended its margin to seven with two minutes remaining; but the Hurricanes looked to have one more run in them.
After Evan Mobley drained a 3-pointer to pull GSW within three (52-49), the Lakers' Tony Dukes travelled in the back court and turned the ball over to the 'Canes with 29 seconds to go. Dukes made up for his mistake, however, by blocking Mobley's three point attempt seconds later and sealing the victory with two free throws on the the other end of the floor.
It was the visiting Lakers who pulled out their fifth win in seven games, improving to 15-8 overall and 7-7 in the Peach Belt Conference.
GSW has now lost four in a row and eight of its last nine games to fall to 12-11 overall and 3-11 in PBC play.
In what resembled more of a football score for most of the game, GSW trailed 14-7 after the opening 10 minutes and was behind 24-18 at halftime.
Down only six at the break, GSW's defense kept the game close as the offense struggled in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 28.6 percent (6 of 21) from the floor and 16.7 percent (2 of 12) from beyond the arc. Clayton State hit on 40 percent of its attempts (8 of 20), but committed 12 turnovers.
The second half saw more of the grind-it-out defensive struggle as GSW trailed by three (38-35) with only 7:44 to go, but the two sides erupted for a combined 30 points down the stretch.
Clayton State shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the second half capped by a five-minute stretch of seven-consecutive converted possessions after GSW had pulled within 38-36.
The Hurricanes warmed up to 34.5 percent shooting after the break and hit 33.3 percent (6 of 18) from 3-point range.
For the game, GSW attempted a season-high 30 shots from beyond the arc which was the most since firing 31 against Columbus State almost one year ago (Feb. 23, 2011).
Teondre Williams scored 16 points to lead CSU. Dukes and Tim Budd added 13 points and seven rebounds apiece. Budd connected on 6 of 7 shot attempts.
The Hurricanes travel to North Georgia on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. contest.