JEFFERSON CITY, TN
– The North Georgia men’s basketball team faced their
first ranked opponent of the year Friday evening and nearly came
away with an upset as a second-half rally came up short and the
Saints fell 61-56 to 19th-ranked Tusculum College as the Dick
Campbell Memorial Classic on the campus of Carson-Newman
#19 Tusculum improves to 3-1 on the year, while the Saints drop their second contest away from home, falling to 3-2 on the season.
Tusculum jumped out to a 17-point lead in the opening half as the Pioneers used a 21-6 run to move out to a 33-16 advantage with 5:40 left in the first period. The Saints answered with an 11-2 run to trail 35-27 at the intermission.
In the second half, Tusculum led by double-figures again as Moore opened the period with a lay-up and a three-pointer as TC led 40-29 with 18:21 in the contest. North Georgia cut the deficit to five (40-35) thanks to three straight baskets by Andrew Bennett.
TC would move its lead back to double-digits at 47-35 thanks to a lay-up and two free throws by Rob Troutman as the Pioneers led by a dozen with 11:19 remaining.
The Pioneers went ice cold shooting 0-for-6 from the field over the next eight minutes. During that span, the Saints put together a 12-0 run and tied the game at 47-47 with 5:56 left, including a pair of free throws by Andrew Bennett.
TC’s Josh Bennett would end the dry spell with a lay-up with 3:17 left on the clock to give the Pioneers a 52-47 lead. But following the bucket, Pat Moynihan stole the in-bounds pass and converted the lay-up to bring the Saints within three (52:49).
Tusculum led by six again after Josh Bennett converted his three-point play with 2:11 remaining. But Pat Moynihan knocked down a three-pointer and Michael Moynihan added a lay-up to trail by one again at 55-54 with 1:14 left.
Taylor made both of hits free throws with 54 seconds remaining and after an offensive foul on the Saints, Troutman was fouled and he made one of two free throws to move Tusculum ahead by four (58-54) with 35 seconds left.
Andrew Bennett had a chance to trim the deficit back to one when he canned a lay-up and was fouled with 21 seconds remaining. But he missed the free throw and was hauled in by Taylor with 18 seconds left. He sunk both of his free throws as Tusculum led again by four (60-56) to seal the win as the Saints missed their final three field goal attempts.
Andrew Bennett and Michael Moynihan each tallied 13 points, while Bernard Rimmer added six points, four blocks and eight rebounds in the loss.
Tusculum was led by Kyle Moore who tallied 19 points, including a dozen markers in the opening half. Jimmy Boone and Josh Bennett added 13 points each, while Wes Taylor finished with seven points and a game-high nine rebounds.
North Georgia returns to action Saturday afternoon in the finale of the Dick Campbell Memorial Classic, playing host Carson-Newman at 4:00 p.m.