DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia men's basketball team played in their final tune-up for the 2010-11 campaign on Wednesday evening, playing host to Baseline USA and coming away with an 81-69 victory in exhibition action.
The exhibition was the final preseason event for the Saints who are five days away from opening the regular season on the road at Young Harris College in the first of 26 games on the year.
North Georgia came out firing in the first half, shooting 53-percent from the field and leading by as many as 12 points at the 12:31 mark when Robby Goldsmith stepped out and knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it a 23-11 advantage.
Baseline fought back late in the opening half, going on a run and taking the lead on a Mike Sloan three-pointer, giving BUSA a 43-42 lead with 54 seconds until intermission. Elijah Smith connected on a pair of free throws late in the first period to give the Saints the lead right back, but Peter Price's jumper in the final seconds sent the game into halftime with Baseline clinging to a 45-44 advantage.
North Georgia came out of the locker room in the second half and took the lead just 15 seconds into the period and would never trail again as Clarence Tillman's layup provided the margin. A pair of ties in the first five minutes of the half would be as close as Baseline would come to the lead as the Saints responded with a 10-0 run, capped by a free throw from Tillman to extend the lead to 65-55 with 8:49 remaining.
The Saints' largest lead in the game was 14, a margin they held three different times down the stretch with the final coming at the 3:04 mark when Carl Taylor got a running layup to go in the paint and make it a 79-65 game with just over three minutes to play.
Taylor led all scorers with 21 points on 5-10 shooting from long range in 32 minutes of action, while Goldsmith recorded a career-high 18 points. Tillman grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and tallied the game's only double-double with 13 points, and Elijah Smith continued to fly around, snagging six rebounds and blocking four shots.
The Saints open the regular season next Monday evening, traveling to Young Harris College to battle the Lions. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the YHC Recreation Center.