MONTEVALLO, AL – The North Georgia men's basketball had a chance late on Wednesday evening, but fell 59-56 to the University of Montevallo at BankTrust Arena in Peach Belt Conference action.
The Saints fall to 9-14 on the year and 6-8 in the Peach Belt Conference, while the Falcons improve their chances of hosting a first-round tournament game, moving to 15-8 overall and 8-6 in league action.
The lead changed hands four times in the first five minutes as the Saints and Falcons went head-to-head with Clarence Tillman creating the first tie of the game with 14:07 remaining, knocking down a three-pointer to make it 7-7.
The Falcons would the lead for the next nine minutes, taking as much as a five-point lead, but the Saints came back and Tillman hit a layup to give North Georgia the lead right back at the 5:25 mark, making it a 19-18 game.
North Georgia would lead by as many as eight points down the stretch in the opening period as Chaun Tinney drilled a jump shot to give the Saints the largest lead of the half at 30-22 with just six seconds remaining as they would take a seven point lead into intermission.
Brody Langston hit his opening shot of the second half to give the Saints a nine-point lead, but the Falcons responded over the next seven minutes, slowing cutting into the lead and eventually pulling in front on a layup from Ryan Westbrooks at the 12:06 mark, giving Montevallo a 40-39 edge.
UM stretched the lead to five points midway through the half, but Elijah Smith gave the Saints a boost, throwing down a pair of dunks in a five minute span, but it was Tillman who knotted the score again, hitting another three-pointer with 7:40 left to make it a 46-46 game.
The lead continued to change hands with under five minutes to play and it came down to free throws as Tyrone Gordon connected on a pair from the charity stripe to break a deadlock and give Montevallo a 55-53 lead with 1:20 remaining.
A free throw battled ensued and it came down to North Georgia's final possession with three seconds remaining, but a last second three-pointer at the buzzer was wide of the mark, giving the Falcons a 59-56 victory.
A trio of North Georgia players finished in double figures, led by Tillman who tallied 14 points and eight rebounds, while Smith has 12, and Langston finished with 10.
The Saints return to action on Saturday afternoon, welcoming in-state rival Georgia Southwestern to town for a crucial Peach Belt Conference game. Tip-off against the Hurricanes is set for 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
The contest will serve as the "Think Pink" game as part of the WBCA's initiative to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer. The North Georgia basketball coaching staffs have encouraged fans to wear pink or purchase "Think Pink" shirts at the game with all proceeds going to the Atlanta 2 Day Breast Cancer Walk.