ANDERSON, SC – The North Georgia men's basketball team continued their trend of close games on Wednesday evening, traveling to Anderson University and taking the Trojans to overtime before falling 102-98 at the Abney Athletic Center in non-conference action.
The Saints drop another close game and their second overtime contest of the season, falling to 2-6 on the season, while Anderson picks up their fifth win in their last six tries, improving to 7-4 on the year.
The Trojans and Saints traded buckets to open the contest as Kevis Cornwell hit a jumper in the paint just 12 seconds into the contest, but Keldrick Coleman answered on the opposite end, pulling down an offensive board and recording the put back to make it 2-2 just 52 seconds into the game.
Anderson took the lead from there, holding a six-point edge on two different occasions before the Saints scored five straight points, capped by a bucket and free throw from Robby Goldsmith to narrow the gap to just one at 16-15 with 10:52 remaining.
The Trojans continued to extend the lead over the final minutes of the first half, taking their first double-digit lead at the 5:08 mark as Brandon Young knocked down a three-pointer to make it a 30-20 lead for the home team.
The lead swelled to as many as 13 points, but after a North Georgia rally to cut the lead to single digits once again, Anderson's Young struck with another long ball, hitting the dagger as the buzzer sounded to give the Trojans a nine-point edge heading to intermission.
The second half was full of action as the Saints surged back into the game with a 14-5 run to open the period, pulling to within three points on a three-point play by Pat Moynihan with 17:03 remaining to make it a 52-49 Trojan lead.
North Georgia finally pulled even at the 11:19 mark as Carl Taylor started to heat up and drained a three-pointer to knot the score at 62-62, but Anderson came alive again and pushed their lead back to as many as eight points with 7:03 left.
The Trojans were hardly ready for what came next however, as the Saints pounded the offensive end and went on a 13-2 run to take their first lead of the game at the 4:41 mark as Taylor knocked down another three-pointer to give North Georgia an 80-77 advantage.
Clarence Tillman gave the Saints their largest lead of the game at 84-79 with 2:45 remaining, but it was Anderson's turn to fight back as Trey Britton hit a layup, collected a foul, and finished the three-point play with 17 seconds remaining, giving the Trojans the lead right back at 88-86.
The Saints had one last regulation punch and Tillman provided the blow, hitting a running layup with three ticks remaining, deadlocking the score for the fourth time in the contest and sending the game to an extra period.
North Georgia could not buy a break in overtime as Anderson raced out to a seven-point lead and never looked back. North Georgia pulled to within a bucket with 19 seconds remaining, but Anderson connected on their final three free throws to seal the deal and capture the four-point overtime victory.
Taylor went off for the Saints, finishing a point shy of his career-high with 31 points and five rebounds. He tied his career mark from long range, knocking down 8-of-16 three-pointers to lead all scorers in 42 minutes of action.
Tillman followed with 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the floor and a 7-for-8 performance from the charity stripe, while Coleman and Elijah Smith tallied 12 points apiece and combined to hit 15-of-16 free throws.
Anderson was led by Young who's 29 points and five assists paced the Trojans, while two other players tallied double-figure points for the home team.
North Georgia shot 51-percent from the field, 38-percent from long range, and connected on 38-of-35 free throws for 80-percent.
The Saints have one final contest scheduled this month, welcoming Young Harris College to town on New Year's Eve for a cross-town battle with the Mountain Lions. Tip-off against YHC is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the final day of the calendar year.