Peach Belt Conference men's tournament roundup: Georgia Regents defeats North Georgia 99-87

Special To The Ledger-EnquirerMarch 7, 2014 

Georgia Regents' men's basketball team used hot free-throw shooting down the stretch to pull away from North Georgia and notch a 99-87 victory over the Nighthawks in a Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal Friday afternoon at The Lumpkin Center.

"We did a pretty good job of taking care of the ball down the stretch," said Georgia Regents coach Dip Metress, whose team made 13 of its 14 free throws in the final 2:50 to go from being up by just one point to safely ahead of the Nighthawks. "Late in the game, we're one of the better free-throw shooting teams in the conference and I like our chances. We also were able to get some rebounds along with making stops on the defensive end."

With the win, Georgia Regents (23-6) advances to today's 6 p.m. semifinal against No. 17 Montevallo (23-4). When the teams met in the regular season, Georgia Regents knocked off Montevallo, 60-56, in Alabama. However, that game took place all the way back on Dec. 17.

"(Montevallo) has the best player in the conference and it's going to be big boy night," said Metress. "It's going to be a physical game on both ends of the floor."

The Jaguars and Nighthawks (12-14) battled on even terms for most of the first half before Georgia Regents used a 16-7 burst over the final 5:42 to build a 41-36 halftime lead. Georgia Regents tried to pull away early in the second half, but North Georgia came back and was only down 63-62 with 9:56 still to go in the game.

However, the Jaguars scored the next seven points to go up 70-62 and North Georgia got not closer than five points the rest of the way. Georgia Regents set a PBC Tournament record for most made free throws in a game by going 35-for-40 (87.5 percent) for the game.

"It's hard to make up ground on a team when they keep making free throws," said North Georgia coach Chris Faulkner. "We'd make a basket and then they'd get it right back at the other end."

Keshun Sherrill had 25 points, four rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and two steals to lead four Georgia Regents players in double figures. Ryan Weems had 23 points and six rebounds, K.J. Sherrill finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds -- six of which came during Georgia Regents' decisive run -- and Harold Doby pitched in 11 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Jaguars.

Ishmael Hollis had a monster game for North Georgia, scoring 28 points, hauling in seven rebounds and making two steals as well. Michael Varrichione had 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks, Lamar Richardson netted 13 points with three rebounds, Chris Tanzy pitched in 11 and Shaquan Cantrell chipped in 10 for the Nighthawks in the loss.

MONTEVALLO 85,

FRANCIS MARION 80

No. 17 Montevallo (23-4) scored the game's final eight points to rally and then hold off the upset-minded Patriots (12-15), who held a three-point lead with just 1:37 remaining in the game.

A layup by Evrik Gary -- a First Team All-Conference pick -- gave Francis Marion an 80-77 lead with 97 seconds to go, but those would be the last points the Patriots would score. Montevallo's Troran Brown made a jumper and following a turnover by the Patriots, Ryan May made a pair of free throws to put the Falcons up 81-80 with 45 seconds remaining.

After another turnover by the Patriots, Brown made a free throw to make it 82-80 with 23 seconds left. Francis Marion missed a shot and the Falcons' Orlando Brazier was fouled. Brazier made another free throw with 12 seconds remaining to put Montevallo up 83-80, the Patriots missed a 3-point shot to tie the game and the Falcons held on from there.

"It's that time of year," said Montevallo head coach Danny Young, who earned his 300th career win with the victory. "When everybody's 0-0, you have to expect this kind of game."

The Falcons jumped on Francis Marion early, leading by 14 points -- at 19-5 after a basket by Larry Slaughter -- just 7:51 into the game. Montevallo was up by as many as 16 points in the first half, at 29-13 after a Da-Juan Cooper free throw with 7:55 to go before halftime. However, the Patriots went on a 21-4 run over the next six-plus minutes to eventually take a 34-33 lead on a basket by Evrik Gary.

The Falcons recovered, though, and took a 37-34 lead into halftime. Brown -- the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year -- had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists to lead Montevallo, Orlando Brazier pitched in 10 points and three rebounds and Slaughter had eight points and seven rebounds in the opening 20 minutes for the Falcons. Meanwhile, Carpenter scored 12 to keep Francis Marion close despite the Patriots making only 11 of their 35 shots (31.4 percent) from the field, including only 5-of-23 (21.7 percent) from behind the 3-point line.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with Montevallo leading by as many as eight points before the Patriots came back to set up the dramatic finish. Brown finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds and six assists to lead the Falcons, who have won four straight and 12 of their last 14. Slaughter finished with a double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Brazier pitched in 15 points and seven rebounds in the victory.

Gary scored a game-high 34 points and pulled down four rebounds for Francis Marion, which had a four-game winning streak snapped. Carpenter had 20 points and seven rebounds and David Brown netted 11 points for the Patriots.

GA. SOUTHWESTERN 74,

LANDER 70

The Hurricanes (20-9) sank 5-of-6 free throws in the final 21.6 seconds to hold off Lander (17-12) and advance to tonight's 8 p.m. semifinal.

Lander led 68-66 with 2:01 remaining, but Georgia Southwestern -- which came into the tournament seventh in the NCAA's Southeast Region rankings -- was able to tie the game at 68 on a layup by Alan Arnett with 1:47 to go. After the Bearcats missed a shot, Arnett made a free throw to give Southwestern the lead for good at 69-68. Lander turned the ball over on its next possession and Arnett drained two more free throws to put the Hurricanes up 71-68 with 21.6 seconds to go.

Following another turnover by Lander, Jamon Hawkins was fouled and made both free throw to put Southwestern up 73-68 with 13.8 seconds to go and the Bearcats got no closer than three points the rest of the way.

"The difference down the stretch were the stops we got," said Hawkins, who had 26 points, three revounds, two assists and two steals. "We got some rebounds and made our free throws, too. We got upset last year (in the tournament), so I'm glad we got a win this year."

Daryl Davis added 17 points, eight rebounds and two steals and Arnett pitched in 16 points, four rebounds and two assists for the Hurricanes. Dermaine Smith the was leading scorer for Lander with 21 points and six rebounds. Michael Panaggio had 17 points and five assists and Jareal Smith chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and two steals for the Bearcats, who only made 9 of their 25 second-half shots (36 percent).

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