January 18, 2012

Saints Rally Back Late, But Fall 93-89 at Lander

Contact: David Beall,

GREENWOOD, SC – The North Georgia men's basketball team fought back from a 20-point deficit on Wednesday evening but came up on the short end of a 93-89 loss to Lander University at Horne Arena in Peach Belt Conference action.

Lander (10-4, 4-3) snaps a two-game skid and gets back on track in Peach Belt play, while the slide continues for the Saints (7-10, 2-4) who drop their fifth straight overall and fourth consecutive game in league play after starting 2-0. 

The Saints held an early lead as Elijah Smith and Pat Moynihan got the offense started with a pair of buckets to give the Saints a 17-13 advantage for what would be the largest lead of the game for North Georgia.

The Bearcats quickly responded and started to pull away with six minutes left in the half, using a 14-2 run, capped by a Dwight Tolbert three-pointer in the corner to give Lander a 47-30 lead with 2:20 left in the opening half.

Lander used a 5-for-6 performance from long range in the first half to pace the Bearcats to a commanding 18-point lead heading to intermission.

The Saints slowly worked their way back into the game, cutting the lead down to 14 at the 13:27 mark, but the Bearcats answered with back-to-back three-pointers over the next 25 seconds to push their lead to 20. 

Lander led by as many as 20 points at four different times in the second half, but the Saints recovered from each deficit and rallied to pull within 10 points at 75-65 following four straight free throws from Moynihan with 6:21 remaining.

North Georgia silenced the crowd with just over three minutes remaining when Scott Windom drilled a three-pointer to cut the lead to seven, but the Bearcats fought back and quickly pushed the lead back to double figures with four unanswered points. 

The fight never left North Georgia however, as they battled back with feisty defense and clutch shots down the stretch, including three straight points from Travis Core with under a minute to play to cut the lead to just two at 91-89.

The Saints put Dwight Tolbert on the line with 11 seconds left and the senior drained both to seal the four-point victory for Lander. Tolbert led all scorers with 30 points, finishing 5-for-6 from long range and 10-for-17 from the floor. 

Three other Bearcats finished in double figures, including 14 points from David Pruitt who hit a trio of three-pointers in four attempts and connected on all three of his free-throws.

North Georgia was led by Clarence Tillman who scored the only double-double in the contest, tallying 24 points and adding 10 rebounds. Moynihan added 22 points and Chaun Tinney chipped in 10 points on a perfect 2-for-2 performance from long range. 

The Bearcats shot 75 percent from behind the arc, compared to just 41 percent for the Saints. North Georgia was 53 percent from the field and 72 percent from the charity stripe.

The Saints return to action on Saturday afternoon, traveling to USC Aiken to take on the 19th-ranked Pacers. Tip-off in the Convocation Center is slated for 7:30 p.m.