Leonard Lights It Up

AMERICUS - Senior guard Damien Leonard drained 5 of 8 from beyond the arc to lead Georgia Southwestern past USC Aiken, 67-62, on Saturday evening in the Storm Dome. Leonard finished with a team-best 19 points and four steals.

GSW improved its record to 7-8 overall and 3-5 in the Peach Belt Conference while USC Aiken fell to 3-12, 0-7 in the PBC. The Hurricanes snapped an 11-game losing streak to USC Aiken during which the Pacers won by an average of 13 points.

On Saturday, the Hurricanes fell behind early, as USCA led 10-2 after five minutes of action.

GSW answered with a 12-4 run to tie the game and Jure Gunjina followed with a layup to give the Hurricanes their first lead of the evening, 16-14, with 9:44 remaining until halftime.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Damien Leonard and Terence Johnson in the final 90 seconds of the half stretched the Hurricanes lead to seven points, their largest of the opening 20 minutes.

GSW led 30-25 at the break and worked its lead to a dozen points, 48-36, by the 10-minute mark of the second half.

A converted 3-point play by Devin Watson with 8:02 to go put the Hurricanes up by 15 for their largest lead of the game.

Leonard drained a 3-pointer with 4:26 on the clock to keep GSW ahead by 13 points, but USCA refused to wave the white flag. The Pacers answered with a 12-1 run to pull within a basket with 52 seconds remaining.

Gunjina converted a key 3-point play down the stretch and Leonard calmly sank two free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory.

The Hurricanes outrebounded USCA, 37-30, and remained undefeated this season (7-0) when they win the battle on the glass.

Gunjina connected on 5 of 8 shots and 6 of 7 attempts from the free throw line to finish with 17 points. Adam Thoseby added 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Tavares Sledge led all scorers with 21 points and added a team-best eight rebounds for USCA. Jevon Patton scored 18 points, with 16 coming in the second half. Arbry Butler chipped in 13.

The Hurricanes to Savannah on Monday to face Armstrong at 7:30 p.m.