DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia men's basketball team never trailed on Wednesday evening, leading by as many as 22 points in the first half on their way to a 72-58 victory over Hiwassee College in non-conference action.
The Saints pick up their first victory of the season, improving to 1-1 overall on the year, while Hiwassee drops their third straight contest, falling to 1-3 on the young season.
North Georgia jumped out on top early, using a Carl Taylor three-pointer for the first bucket of the game, but Hiwassee fought right back with a layup from Jarvis Porter at the 16:19 mark to knot the game at 5-5 and create the only tie of the contest.
The Saint tried to pull away midway through the first half as George Jgerenaia grabbed an offensive rebound and slammed it home to make it an eight-point lead with 10:36 remaining, but the Tigers clawed their way back again, scoring four straight points and making it a 20-16 game with 9:57 remaining.
In the final minutes of the first half, Clarence Tillman stole the show, scoring 11 straight points for the Saints and extending the lead to the largest of the half at 42-20. The junior transfer tallied four free throws in the stretch, drained a pair of jump shots, and buried a three-pointer to send his team to intermission with a 21-point advantage.
North Georgia came out in the second half and continued to surge offensively, extending the lead to the largest of the game at 28 with another Taylor three-pointer at the 11:52 mark to make it 58-30.
Hiwassee put a small run together in the second half, cutting the lead down to 13 points in the final minute, but the Saints held on down the stretch for a 14-point victory at 72-58.
North Georgia scored 26 points in the paint, tallied 18 points off 16 Hiwassee turnovers, and put together 24 points off the bench. The Saints shot 43-percent (25-58) from the field, 31-percent (7-22) from long range, but struggled from the charity, managing just 57-percent (15-26).
Tillman led the Saints with 18 points on 6-11 shooting from the field and a 4-5 performance from the foul line, while Carl Taylor chipped in 11 points on 3-8 shooting from behind the arc. Elijah Smith and George Jgerenaia ruled the air all night, blocking four shots apiece, while Smith pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
Hiwassee was led by Zack Williams who put together the game's only double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was the only Tiger to finish in double figures, going 7-16 from the field, a perfect 2-2 from long range, and 3-4 from the free throw line in 32 minutes of action.
North Georgia returns to action over the weekend with a pair of games at the Mount Olive Pickle Classic, taking on 15th-ranked Mount Olive on Friday evening and Chowan on Saturday afternoon.