– The North Georgia men’s basketball team fought off a
furious comeback by Reinhardt College late, holding on to defeat
the Eagles 86-77 in Memorial Hall as the Saints picked up their
first victory of the season.
North Georgia improves to 1-0 on the season, and move to 5-2 all-time in season openers under head coach Chris Faulkner, while Reinhardt College drops their second straight exhibition contest to an NCAA school and return to NAIA action later this week.
Both teams got off the deck quickly in the early going, scoring a combined 27 points in the first six minutes as Tyler Norman gave North Georgia their biggest lead in the first five minutes, hitting a jumper at the 16:05 mark to give the Saints a 10-5 lead.
The Eagles would fight right back however, knotting the score at 16-16 with 11:35 remaining in the first half as Kordel Alexander knocked down is third three-pointer of the game to tie the score. North Georgia would respond with a run of their own, scoring 10 straight, capped by a long ball from Pat Moynihan to give the Saints a 26-16 advantage.
North Georgia led by as many as 14 in the first half, but the Eagles ended the first half on a 10-0 run to shrink the Saints’ lead to just four points at intermission.
The Saints came out firing in the second half, pushing their lead up to 15 points at 57-42 in the first five minutes, and continued to increase their lead to as many as 22 with 13 minutes remaining in the game.
Reinhardt forced the tempo late and crept back into the game, pulling as close as eight points with 4:17 remaining in the game, but that would be as close as the Eagles would come as North Georgia held on for the nine-point victory to open the season.
The Saints held a 20-12 advantage in points in the paint, while the Eagles rallied late to take a 12-8 edge in points off turnovers. Both teams were productive off the bench, finishing with 23 points apiece from reserve players.
North Georgia shot 51-percent from the field, 24-percent from long range, and 79-percent from the free throw line, while Reinhardt finished the game at 37-percent from the floor, 38-percent from behind the arc, and 83-percent from the charity stripe.
Andrew Bennett led all scorers with 23 points in 28 minutes of action, coming two rebounds shy of a double-double, while adding five blocks. Michael Moynihan opened the season with 18 points, missing his final free throw of the game in a bid to stay perfect, going 11-12 from the foul line. Keldrick Coleman made an impact off the bench, going 4-5 from the field for nine points, while adding six rebounds and two steals.
North Georgia returns to action on Thursday evening, hosting in-state rival Truett-McConnell with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall.