The Executive Branch
AMERICUS, Ga. – On the night honoring the Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricanes' five seniors, it seemed only poetic that a senior would steal the show. Senior guard Terra Branch would lead her team in scoring, bank in a 25-foot heave to send the game to overtime, set a new career high in assists and join the exclusive 1,000 point club all in the same night. Branch's farewell performance in front of the home crowd slipped GSW past the Georgia College Lady Bobcats 91-85 in overtime Wednesday evening.
Branch, the Athens native, would score 24 points while shooting 4-5 from beyond the arc. She would also reset her career high in assists (8) for the second time this month. The senior guard would spearhead the GSW scoring attack alongside fellow 20-point scorer Adrian Randall.
Randall tallied 21 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked three shots in her 28 minutes off the bench. It marked the second consecutive game that the junior forward registered 16 rebounds as she had a career night with 27 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks against North Georgia just three days earlier.
Georgia College got three outstanding performances from Enisha Donley, Shanteona Keys and Krysta Lewis who all scored at least 20 points Wednesday evening. The trio combined to score all but 13 of the Lady Bobcats' 85 points for the game.
The first of the game's memorable moments came with 6:13 left to play in the first half when Terra Branch hit a three-pointer to give her career points 1,000, 1,001 and 1,002. She became only the second player in the NCAA Division II era to score 1,000 career points in a GSW uniform.
The visitors opened the game on a torrid shooting pace as they would lead for all but 1:41 of the first half. Their lead would be as large as six points before going into halftime up just one point. Georgia Southwestern shot a very respectably in the first half converting 53.3 % from the field, 36.4% from beyond the arc and 80.0% from the free throw line. Yet their porous defense would allow GCSU to shoot even better in all three aspects as the Lady Bobcats shot 62.5% from the field, 83.3% from three-point range and 85.7% from the charity stripe.
While the aforementioned trio of scorers for Georgia College would all score ten points or more in the half, Terra Branch would lead all scorers in the first half with 14 of her 24 points.
The second half continued the back-and-forth battle as no team lead by more than four points throughout the first 13 minutes of the second half. With 6:50 left to play, GCSU's Krysta Lewis would bury her fourth three-pointer of the game to give the visitors the 70-64 lead. GSW would take the lead back four minutes later, but would surrender it right back with 90 seconds to play.
Enter Terra Branch.
After Shanteona Keys split a pair of free throws to give the Lady Bobcats a three-point lead with four seconds remaining, Terra Branch would bank in a 25 foot two-handed heave as time expired to send the game into overtime.
The Lady Hurricanes would double up the Lady Bobcats in the extra frame by a score of 12-6 to capture the 91-85 victory on Senior Night. It also marked the last time seniors Jessica Jones, Samantha Smith, Tania Walters, Jessica Bivins and Terra Branch would play inside the Storm Dome on the campus of Georgia Southwestern University.
The victory pushes the Georgia Southwestern record to 18-7 (10-6 PBC) on the season. It also sets-up a pivotal game at Columbus State in the season finale as the winner would clinch second place in the PBC West Division and earn the fourth seed for the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. Tip-off in Columbus will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, February 25th.