February 1, 2014

Homecoming Heartbreak

AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team committed 12 second half turnovers and was held to nine field goals over the final 20 minutes as Young Harris College rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to hand the Hurricanes an 80-77 homecoming defeat.

GSW has lost two games in a row and falls to 16-5 overall and 8-4 in the Peach Belt Conference. Young Harris won its second straight and improves to 12-5 overall and 6-4 in the PBC.

Saturday's setback marks the fourth-straight game Southwestern has seen a double-digit lead in the second half erased. The first two times GSW rallied in the final moments to pull out a victory, but the last two times the collapse has led to gut-wrenching defeats.

Hurricane shooters warmed up quickly against Young Harris and finished with a strong first half, connecting on 57.1 percent (20 of 35) from the floor. Jamon Hawkins dished out five assists, more than the entire team could manage over the final 20 minutes. The Hurricanes took their largest lead of the afternoon at 49-34 when Hawkins hit a jumper as the first half ended.

The Mountain Lions wasted no time beginning their march back as they scored the first 14 points of the second period to pull within a point (49-48) with 15:54 remaining.

After Young Harris regained the lead at 52-51, the Hurricanes rattled off a 12-3 run to open up a 63-55 lead with 10:14 on the clock. The Mountain Lions fought back once again and tied the game at 68-68 on a Isaiah Johnson 3-pointer with just over five minutes remaining.

Young Harris made the most of back-to-back GSW turnovers to open its largest lead of the game at 74-69 with 2:33 to play.

The Hurricanes had one more run in them and took back the lead at 77-76 on an Alan Arnett layup with 75 seconds left. Sam Watson's layup on the ensuing YHC possession gave the Mountain Lions the lead for good. 

GSW had a couple of opportunities to retake the lead or tie in the final minute, but a turnover, two missed free throws and a pair of missed 3-point attempts left the Hurricanes wondering what might have been.

Southwestern finished with seven steals, but only one came in the second half. On the other side, Young Harris collected nine of its 10 steals over the final 20 minutes. Both sides ended the game shooting over 50 percent from the floor. Rebounds were even at 33-33. 

Arnett led the Hurricanes with 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Kevin Burnell hit 4 of 5 attempts from beyond the arc en route to his 12-point performance. Daryl Davis added 11 points and Johathan Brooks chipped in 10.

Kevin Altidor finished with 21 points and seven rebounds for YHC. Johnson added 16 points and C.J. Wilson scored 11.

The Hurricanes travel to Columbus State on Thursday for a 7:30 p.m. contest.

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