January 12, 2014

Shooters Struggle As 18th-Ranked 'Canes Upended By Francis Marion

AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team was unable to recover from an 18-point first half as Francis Marion University upset the 18th-ranked Hurricanes, 58-53, on Sunday afternoon in the Storm Dome.

GSW's team shooting percentage was held under 40 percent for the first time this season (36.2) as the Hurricanes record falls to 12-2 overall and 4-1 in the PBC. Francis Marion has won three-straight games and improves to 6-6 overall and 3-3 in PBC play. FMU leads the series with Southwestern, 6-4, since GSW joined the Peach Belt in 2006-07.

It was GSW's worst shooting night in almost two years as the Hurricanes matched their 36.2 percent effort in the 2011-12 season finale, an 84-64 loss at Columbus State.

Southwestern forward Daryl Davis threw down a two-handed dunk 53 seconds into Sunday's game for the first points of the contest. That would turn out to be the Hurricanes only lead of the afternoon.

Francis Marion went on a 14-4 run capped by a Dustin Jones 3-pointer to open an eight point lead with 9:32 left in the first half. GSW clawed back and tied the game at 18-18 before missing its final three shots of the half to trail 20-18 at the break. The 18-point first half is the lowest the 'Canes have seen since scoring 18 against Albany State on Nov. 17, 2012.

Neither side shot well over the opening 20 minutes. GSW made 8 of 30 attempts (26.7 percent) while FMU was slightly better at 8 of 29 (27.6 percent). The teams combined to shoot 4 of 29 from beyond the arc.

Both sides warmed up in the second half, but it was FMU that got off to the quick start. The Patriots opened the second period on a 10-1 run and moments later, after a pair of free throws from Mykel Harris, stretched the lead to 12 points, their largest of the game at 35-23 with 14:32 remaining.

GSW had little luck closing the gap over the following six minutes and FMU led 47-36 with 7:53 to go. But the Hurricanes would not go away quietly. Jamon Hawkins and Johathan Brooks knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 10-0 run that pulled the Hurricanes within a point with 4:44 left on the clock.

FMU answered with baskets on three straight possessions. Alan Arnett's 3-point basket for GSW with 2:58 to play made it a three point game at 54-51, but that would be the Hurricanes last score until Brooks tipped in a shot at the buzzer to make the final score 58-53. 

The teams finished even in rebounds at 40 apiece and almost identical in shots attempted as FMU managed 59 to the Hurricanes 58, but GSW attempted only four free throws, the program's lowest single-game total in almost five years (one attempt against Clayton State on Feb. 4, 2009).

Brooks posted his eighth double-double of the season, a 14-point, 18-rebound effort, to lead the Hurricanes. Arnett added 14.

Evrik Gary scored a game-high 16 points to lead FMU. Jones added 12 and Luka Zivkovic chipped in 10. Robert Carpenter pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

Southwestern travels to Montevallo on Wednesday for an 8:30 p.m. game.