MORROW, Ga. - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team rallied from an 11-point first half deficit to defeat Clayton State, 73-62, on Wednesday evening in the Athletics Center.
The Hurricanes won for the second-straight year at Clayton State to even their record this season at 9-9 overall while improving to 4-7 in Peach Belt Conference play. GSW is two games behind North Georgia for the fourth, and final, seed out of the west division for the postseason PBC Tournament. Clayton State sees its five-game winning streak snapped and falls to 14-5 overall and 7-4 in conference play.
GSW fell behind early as the Lakers led 17-7 with 13:17 left in the opening half. Clayton State answered a pair of Carlton Geathers free throws moments later with a 3-pointer from Kelsey Terry to grab its largest lead of the ballgame, 11 points, at 20-9. Following a Clayton State timeout, the Hurricanes rattled off a momentum-shifting 11-1 run to pull within a point, 21-20, with 6:31 remaining in the period.
Southwestern claimed its first lead of the evening three minutes later when a Geathers layup put the Hurricanes ahead, 27-26. GSW led 33-28 at the break.
Richard Bell threw down a dunk on the first possession of the second half for the Lakers to cut the Hurricane lead to three points. That's as close as Clayton State would get the rest of the way. Southwestern quickly built a nine-point cushion with an 8-2 run sparked by 3-pointers from Damien Leonard and Deric Rudolph. From there GSW slowly added to its lead until a Josh Birchfield layup at the eight minute mark gave the Hurricanes their largest advantage of the evening, 60-43. GSW maintained a double-digit margin until the final horn.
The GSW offense was efficient in the second half shooting 50 percent from the floor.
The Hurricanes finished with a higher shooting percentage (47.1 percent) than Clayton State (36.8 percent) and dished out three more assists, 13-10. GSW won the battle on boards as well, 40-37, and made nine more free throws, 15-6.
Rudolph and Leonard shared top scoring honors with 16 points apiece. Rudolph made four 3-pointers and Leonard sank three. Darius Redding finished with a double-double as he added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Burnell came off the bench to chip in 11 points and a career-high seven rebounds.
Southwestern came out slightly ahead in the battle between the best 3-point shooting team in the PBC and the top 3-point defense in the league. GSW entered the game shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc while Clayton State was holding its opposition to 30. 6 percent. The Hurricanes connected on 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) on Wednesday.
Terry and Bell paced Clayton State with 14 points apiece. JC Bonny and Jamil McKey added 11 apiece. Bell grabbed a team-best nine rebounds.
Southwestern travels to Columbus State on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. game.