AMERICUS - Georgia Southwestern senior forward Josh Birchfield had a career night in leading the Hurricanes to a 74-58 victory over Middle Georgia State College on Monday evening in the Storm Dome. The Charleston, W.Va., native posted his collegiate best in points (23) and rebounds (13) to finish with his second double-double of the season.
The Hurricanes won their third game in a row to improve to 5-2 while Middle Georgia dropped its fifth straight to fall to 3-8.
GSW was slow out of the gates for the second-straight game. Middle Georgia grabbed a 5-3 lead less than three minutes in with a Cory Reid layup. David Bivens followed with a pair of free throws for the Knights at the 16:25 mark to give the visitors what would turn out to be their largest lead of the night, four points. The Hurricanes managed to tie the game three times over the following seven-plus minutes, but it wasn't until Birchfield put in a layup with 8:59 left until the break that GSW would regain the lead, 19-17.
Middle Georgia answered with a 3-pointer from Seth Coleman to jump back on top, 20-17, and eventually pushed the lead back to four points at 26-22 with 2:43 remaining in the half.
The Hurricanes created some separation from Middle Georgia early in the second half. GSW scored the first eight points of the period to open a 12-point advantage, 41-29, with 17:55 to play.
Coleman pulled Middle Georgia within eight points, 48-40, with his layup at the 13:58 mark, but the Hurricanes put the game out of reach by answering with an 11-0 run that saw bookend 3-pointers from Rudolph. The 19-point lead was GSW's largest of the evening.
The Hurricanes kept the margin 13 points or more the rest of the way.
Southwestern shot 60.9 percent in the second half to finish the game at 52.9 percent (27 of 51). The Hurricanes held Middle Georgia to 33.8 percent shooting (22 of 65). GSW outrebounded the Knights, 40-32, and dished out a season-high 22 assists compared to nine by Middle Georgia.
Birchfield led all scorers with his 23 points. He connected on 10 of 13 shots. Rudolph finished with 17 points after making 5 of 8 from beyond the arc and 6 of 9 shots overall. He added seven assists. Redding was two rebounds shy of his third-straight double-double after scoring 15 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
Ryan Wilkins led Middle Georgia with 15 points. Alyja Hennings added 13 points and Brandon Ingleton pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Southwestern travels to Augusta, Ga. on Thursday for a 11 a.m. game at Georgia Regents.