FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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PENSACOLA, FL – The North Georgia men's basketball team opened up a double-digit first-half lead on Friday evening before holding on down the stretch to knock off 2nd-ranked and previously unbeaten Alabama-Huntsville 83-77 at the UWF Thanksgiving Classic.
The Saints (4-1) win their second straight game and improve to 4-1 on the young season, while the Chargers (3-1) suffer their first loss of the year after their "Elite Eight" run a season ago.
After trailing by as many as five points in the opening minutes, North Georgia used a stellar first-half performance from Travis Core who scored seven straight points in a 10-3 run to give the Saints their first lead of the game at 13-11 with 15:24 remaining in the half.
As the Saints started to extend their lead in the first half, Core was at the center of the surging offense, going 3-for-4 from long range and 6-for-7 from the field to lead North Georgia to intermission with a 45-32 lead over the Chargers.
Alabama-Huntsville clawed their way back to within nine points with 16:12 remaining in the contest, but Clarence Tillman answered with a three-pointer and Scott Windom followed with a pair of free throws to push the Saints' lead to a game-high 14 points.
The Chargers made another run with under 10 minutes to play when Jaime Smith hit a layup to cut the North Georgia lead to seven, but Tillman had the answer again, converting a three-point play the old fashioned way to give the Saints a 73-63 lead with 6:39 remaining.
UAH followed the Tillman bucket and made one last surge with a 6-0 run to cut the Saints' lead to just four with 3:54 left, but North Georgia never backed down, answering with a 9-1 run of their own that featured back-to-back three-pointers from Core and Pat Moynihan to put the game away.
For the Saints, a win against the No. 2 team in the country a squad coming off an "Elite Eight" appearance was powered by three players in double figures, as Core led the trio with 19 points. Clarence Tillman followed with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Windom had 14 points as he battled foul trouble.
UAH's Zane Campbell scored a game-high 26 points for the Chargers as he went 10-for-14 from the field and 4-for-6 from the free throw line. Smith added 21 points and Xavier Baldwin tallied 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds in a losing effort.
The Saints will turn around tomorrow afternoon and take on tournament host West Florida to cap the UWF Thanksgiving Classic. The finale of the two-day event will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.