MOUNT OLIVE, NC – The North Georgia men's basketball team dropped their second straight contest by two points on Saturday evening, falling 65-63 to Chowan University on the final day of the 45th Annual Mount Olive Pickle Classic at Kornegay Arena.
The Saints drop both games in the classic by a single bucket, falling to 1-3 overall on the season, while the Hawks pick up their first of the season, improving to 1-2 on the year.
A back and forward affair was the story of the first half as neither team led by more than four points over the first 13 minutes, and things wouldn't change then as Chowan's Mark Brown knotted the score at 17-17 with the first of two free throws with 7:43 remaining, marking the sixth tie of the game.
Following the deadlock, the Hawks got their offense working, scoring nine straight points to take the largest lead of the game at 26-17 with 4:49 remaining in the half.
North Georgia responded just as quickly, stringing together nine straight points of their own as Carl Taylor started the stretch with a three-pointer, and Keldrick Coleman capped the run with a layup, creating the seventh tie of the contest.
After another tie and lead change, George Jgerenaia knocked down a jumper as time expired, sending the game into intermission deadlocked at 29-29 for the ninth tie of the contest.
North Georgia started to find rhythm on offense in the second half, going on a 14-0 run with six of the points scored by Elijah Smith, including a layup with 13:21 remaining to create the largest lead of the game at 43-31.
Chowan slowly worked their way back into the game, cutting the lead to a single point on two different occasions before finally knotting the score at 58-58 with 4:26 remaining.
The lead changed hands three more times down the stretch, but Christian Kaman's free throw at the 2:08 mark gave the Hawks the lead for good. Chaun Tinney pulled North Georgia to within a point in the final seconds, but Chowan split a pair of free throws to come away with the two-point victory.
In the tightly contested contest, the lead changed hands nine times, while the score was deadlocked on 13 different occasions. Both teams struggled from long range, but Chowan managed 45-percent from the field, while the Saints shot 47-percent from the floor.
Taylor led North Georgia with 14 points, while Smith had 13 points, four blocks, and eight rebounds. Clarence Tillman and Keldrick Coleman tallied 10 points apiece to round out the four players in double figures for the Saints.
Christian Um Kaman led all scorers with 20 points, going 9-15 from the floor and 2-4 from the free throw line. He pulled own seven rebounds and picked up a pair of steals. Mark Browns and Charles Rhodes also finished with 12 points apiece.
The Saints return to action on Tuesday evening, traveling to nearby Truett-McConnell College to take on the Bears in non-conference action. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. in Cleveland, Georgia. The Sports Communications staff will be on hand to provide live statistics for the contest.