GREENWOOD, S.C. - Georgia Southwestern junior Damien Leonard posted his first double-double of the season with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the Hurricanes were unable to hold off Lander University, 61-54, in a Peach Belt Conference matchup Saturday afternoon in Horne Arena.
It was the Hurricanes first loss of the season when they held the lead at halftime (5-1) and they fall to 5-4 overall, 0-2 in the PBC while Lander improves to 10-0, 3-0 in conference play having yet to play a road game this season. The Bearcats lead the NCAA-era series record with GSW, 8-4.
The Hurricanes utilized a 17-4 run, which included five 3-point baskets (including two apiece from Leonard and Kevin Burnell), to open their largest lead of the game, 27-14, with 3:59 left in the first half. GSW led 29-21 at the break.
A pair of baskets from Josh Birchfield and another 3-pointer from Leonard helped the Hurricanes stretch their lead to 12 points, 36-24, with 18:12 to play.
Lander answered with a 7-0 run, but Leonard knocked down another 3-pointer at the 14:28 mark to temporarily stop the bleeding. The Bearcats continued to chip away at the GSW lead and with J.R. Washington's layup at 6:56 the score was tied, 47-47.
The Bearcats took the lead for good when Sergio Smith sank a jumper to make the score 51-50 with 4:40 remaining.
GSW finished with a higher shooting percentage (45.5%) than Lander (35.1%) and won the rebounding battle, 35-32, but turned the ball over 16 more times (25-9) and committed nine more fouls (22-13) which put the Bearcats on the free throw line for 25 attempts. The 25 turnovers are the most the Hurricanes have made since Jan. 23, 2012, when they turned the ball over 26 times at USC Aiken.
Kiair Crouch made 10 of 11 attempts from the free throw line and scored 18 points to lead Lander. Washington made 6 of his 8 from charity stripe and chipped in 14 points.
Southwestern returns home after the holidays to entertain Montevallo on Jan. 3 at 3:30 p.m.