YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team led wire to wire on Saturday afternoon at Young Harris College to pick up its first Peach Belt Conference win of the season, 71-64.
The Hurricanes snapped a five-game losing skid to improve to 6-7 overall, 1-5 in the PBC while Young Harris lost its fourth game in a row to fall to 5-7 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Young Harris answered with a 13-2 run to pull within a point, 18-17, with 7:36 left before the break. That's as close as the Mountain Lions would get the rest of the afternoon.
The Hurricanes closed out the half on a 17-5 run kickstarted by eight-straight points from Deric Rudolph that included back-to-back 3-pointers. GSW led 35-22 at halftime.
Leonard and Rudolph struck again when they combined to open the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers and the Hurricanes proceeded to score eight of the first 10 points of the period to open up their largest lead of the afternoon, 19 points, 43-24.
YHC chipped away at the Hurricane lead and eventually utilized a 13-2 run to pull within four points, 61-57, with 4:44 to play.
Birchfield delivered four consecutive points over the next 1 1/2 minutes to push the GSW lead back to eight.
The Mountain Lions had one last push to get within four, 65-61, with 90 seconds to go, but Southwestern was clutch at the line in the closing moments and sank 6 of 6 free throws to seal the victory.
GSW finished with a higher shooting percentage (48.1%) than YHC (41.5%) and dished out 12 more assists. The Hurricanes made 20 assists on 25 field goals. GSW won the rebounding battle as well, 33-31, but committed two more turnovers, 14-12.
Leonard connected on 5 of 9 attempts from beyond the arc on the way to his game-high 19-point evening. Rudolph was 5 of 10 from long range en route to his 17 points. Birchfield added 12 points and seven rebounds. Cameron Venus pulled down a team-high eight boards and Darius Redding fell one assist shy of matching the YHC team total as he dished out seven assists.
C.J. Wilson scored 18 points to lead the Mountain Lions. Isaiah Johnson added 14 points and Kevin Altidor posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Southwestern returns to Americus to host Flagler College on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.