AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team dropped its season opener to Fort Valley State, 78-75 in overtime, on Friday evening in the Storm Dome.
In what turned out to be a tale of two halves, it was the Hurricanes who grabbed the early advantage. After a tight opening five minutes, GSW utilized an 8-2 run to open its largest lead of the night, 18-10, with 11:41 to play in the first half.
FVSU fought back, grabbed the momentum and eventually evened the contest at 30-30 with six minutes left until the break.
The Hurricanes proceeded to regain the lead and went into halftime ahead by three points, 41-38. Both teams shot extremely well over the opening 20 minutes as FVSU connected on 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) shots and the Hurricanes were right behind with a 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) showing. The glaring difference was points off turnovers, where GSW held a 14-2 advantage.
The sides reversed roles in the second half and the Wildcats opened their largest lead of the night, 63-55, with 8:13 remaining in regulation after a back-and-forth start to the period.
GSW answered this time with an 11-2 run capped by a Daryl Davis 3-point play.
Once again the teams went back-and-forth until the closing minute. Jamon Hawkins slashed through the lane for a layup with 1:11 remaining to tie the game at 73-73. After FVSU was unable to score on its trip down the floor, the Hurricanes had an opportunity to take the final shot in regulation. Austin Kelly was unable to connect on a 3-pointer as time expired.
The points off turnovers differential in the second half favored FVSU as the Wildcats outscored GSW, 12-5.
In overtime it came down to free throws as neither team scored a field goal in the extra session.
Despite connecting on 22 of 30 attempts in the game, GSW made 2 of 6 down the stretch, including 2 of 4 in overtime.
FVSU made 5 of 8 from the charity stripe in the extra period and 20 of 31 overall.
The teams combined for 47 fouls.
Turnovers were GSW's achilles heel on Friday as the Hurricanes committed 20 in the contest. FVSU turned the ball over 12 times.
GSW outrebounded the Wildcats (37-26), finished with a higher field goal percentage (47.2-43.4) and held a commanding points in the paint advantage (40-20).
Jeremy Sledge led FVSU with 18 points. Corey Hunter added 15. The Wildcats shot a sizzling 50 percent (12 of 24) from beyond the arc.
Southwestern had four players score in double figures, led by Davis with 14 points. Hawkins added 13. Kelly scored 12 and Michael Tankersley chipped in 11.
Davis matched FVSU's Kyle Cooper with a game-high six rebounds.
The Hurricanes return to the hardwood on Saturday for a 2 p.m. matchup with Brevard College in the Storm Dome on the final day of GSW's Tip-Off Classic.