February 13, 2013

Saints Hit the Road for Pair of Cross Division Match-ups

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The University of North Georgia men's basketball team picked up two big Peach Belt Conference West Division wins last week and has momentum on their side as they prepare to dip out of the division on the road this week.

The Saints will play Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C. on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and will then travel up into North Carolina where the University of North Carolina Pembroke awaits their arrival for a 3:30 p.m. game on Saturday, Feb. 16. Both the Patriots of FMU and Braves of UNCP compete in the PBC's East Division but the games still hold plenty of meaning as the 2013 PBC Basketball Tournament looms larger in the distance.

North Georgia (13-8, 8-6 PBC) is currently third in the West standings with some breathing room over Clayton State University and Georgia Southwestern State University. The Saints have already played the Lakers twice this season, but still have one more game against the Hurricanes in two weeks.

The Saints have two players who have started every game this season in senior forward JC Ward and junior forward Ishmael Hollis. Ward averages 18.1 minutes, 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and is a 59.5% shooter from the field whle Hollis leads the team with 32.5 minutes, 15.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Hollis shoots 45.5% from the field but is also versatile in that he shoots 40.2% from three-point range and averages 2.3 treys per game.

Scott Windom has had a successful past couple of games as he averaged 20.5 points while shooting 61.5% from the field in the Saints' two games last week. For the season, Windom averages 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and is a 50.2% shooter from the field.

As a team, the Saints recovered nicely last week after suffering through two of their worst three-point shooting performances of the season two weeks ago. The three-ball has certainly helped the Saints this season, and that proved to be true Saturday when North Georgia bested Columbus State University 91-64 off a 50% shooting performance from three-point range. The Saints are 13-3 this season when they shoot better than 30% from three-point range including a stretch of five straight wins where they averaged 40% from beyond the arc.

One of the leading factors in the Saints' perimeter game has been junior transfer Lamar Richardson, who went 7-12 from three-point range alone last week, including 6-7 against Columbus State as he scored 26 points. He finished the win over Columbus shooting a scorching 81.8% (9-11) from the field.

Francis Marion (9-10, 4-8 PBC) is 7-5 at home and have won three of their last five games. As a team, the Patriots are averaging 89.0 points per game and shooting 41.5%, but opponents are shooting 49.0% from the field against them.

Junior guard Evrik Gary leads the Patriots' charge with 16.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He is the only player to start in every game this season and averages 28.7 minutes per game and shoots 41.2% from the field and 31.9% from three-point range.

Dustin Jones leads the team from three-point range with 54 treys for the season off a 37.8% effort. He shoots 43.4% from the field and averages 13.9 points and 21.7 minutes per game.

Along with Gary and Jones, Chris Rhodes, Tyler Deihl and Clayton Williams are the only five players to have seen action in all 19 games this season.

UNC Pembroke (15-8, 8-5 PBC) is 9-1 at home this season and is currently third in the PBC East Division standings. The Braves shoot 43.4% from the field and average 76.5 points per game, but their opponents shoot a nearly identical 43.5% from the field.

Quamain Rose, a freshman guard, is the only player for the Braves to have started all 23 games while George Blakeney has started 22. Blakeney leads players who have played in at least 20 games with 14.0 points per contest and almost averages a double-double with 9.2 rebounds per game in 28.0 minutes per game. He also leads the team with a 58.2% shooting.

Rose averages 12.2 points per game in 26.7 minutes of action and shoots 38.0% from the field while senior guard Shahmel Brackett, who has played in 16 games this season, averages 15.1 points and 3.4 assists per game.