DAHLONEGA, GA – Keldrick Coleman came up with huge defensive steal and a made free throw in the final seconds on Saturday evening, sending North Georgia to a 72-70 victory over UNC Pembroke in Memorial Hall in Peach Belt Conference action.
The win gives the Saints some momentum heading into the final stretch of the season as North Georgia improves to 9-13 overall and 6-7 in the Peach Belt Conference. The Braves, who entered the tilt winners in three of their last four, drop to 14-9 overall and 7-8 league action.
With the score deadlocked at 70-70 and time running down under 25 seconds, UNC Pembroke seemed poised to hold for the last shot, but Coleman had other plans as the senior came away with the steal and was intentionally fouled with two seconds remaining.
The Gainesville, Ga., native stepped to the charity stripe and made one of two attempts, putting the Saints up by a point as they still held possession. Robby Goldsmith was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and the sophomore made one of two, giving North Georgia a 72-70 last-second victory.
The game was back and forward throughout the second half and stayed close down to the final minutes as Chris Hargrove got a layup to go at the 2:26 mark, giving the Braves a 67-66 lead.
Elijah Smith put North Georgia in front by a point on the following possession, but Nate Priest went right back to work on the other end, sending a layup home to make it a 69-68 Braves' lead with 1:33 remaining.
With time running down near one minute, Carl Taylor dribbled left from the top of the key and was fouled, sending the senior to the line for a pair of free throws. The first attempt rattled home, deadlocking the score at 69-69 and creating the 13th tie of the contest. He drilled the second free throw, giving the Saints a one-point edge.
Shahmel Brackett was then fouled with 54 seconds remaining, but the sophomore could only connect on one of two attempts, sending the game to a 70-70 tie. Following a turnover by the Saints, UNC Pembroke looked to be in control, but Coleman would come up with the late heroics, sending the Saints to their sixth victory in the last eight games.
Taylor led all scorers with 17 points, putting together another stellar shooting performance from long range, going 4-for-5 from behind the arc in 28 minutes of action. Smith added 13 points, two block, two steals, and a pair of assists to round out the North Georgia players in double figures.
Hargrove led the Braves with 15 points, while Bracket added 13, and Priest tallied 11 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
The Saints return to action next Wednesday evening, traveling to the University of Montevallo for another Peach Belt Conference contest. Tip-off against the Falcons is set for 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in BankTrust Arena.