PEMBROKE, N.C. -- The Georgia Southwestern State University men's basketball season came to a close Wednesday evening after a 70-54 loss in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament against the University of North Carolina Pembroke in the English E. Jones Center.
The 24th-ranked Braves, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, improved to 15-1 this season at home and 24-5 overall. They will meet Francis Marion University in the semifinals held at Clayton State University on Saturday. GSW finishes 13-14 overall, a six-win improvement for second-year head coach Ben Hicks.
How It Happened: UNC Pembroke scored the first seven points of the game and never relinquished its lead.
GSW trailed by 14 points at halftime, 36-22, after shooting an ice cold 18.2 percent from 3-point range over the opening 20 minutes.
The Hurricanes outscored UNC Pembroke 19-10 to start the second half and pulled within five points with 13:52 to play after a 3-pointer by R.J. Sessions. GSW got as close as four points, 50-46, when Andre Statam drained a 3-pointer with 10:15 to go, but three consecutive misses from long range followed for the Hurricanes and opened the door for UNC Pembroke to stretch its lead back to a more comfortable nine points.
A final push was led by Hasaan Buggs, as the senior drew a charge on the defensive end and followed with back-to-back layups in the post to pull the Hurricanes within five, but on the second basket Buggs went down to the floor in pain and left the game long enough for UNC Pembroke to capitalize with a back-breaking 8-0 run to put the game out of reach with four minutes remaining.
UNC Pembroke finished with a substantial 40-26 rebounding edge. The Hurricanes were held to 28.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc attempting 21 shots from long range and only six from the free throw line - a season low. UNC Pembroke's bench outscored GSW's thin group of reserves, 35-0. GSW bench players combined for 20 minutes on the floor, while UNCP subs saw 60 minutes of combined playing time.
Who Stood Out: Buggs, the lone senior on GSW's roster, led all scorers with 18 points and added five rebounds and four assists. Sessions scored 14 points and Statam added 10.
UNCP was led by Akia Pruitt with 15 points, behind 7-of-9 shooting, and nine rebounds. James Murray-Boyles added 15 points off the bench in 26 minutes of action.