DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The North Georgia College & State University men's basketball team continued to grow and learn Wednesday night as the Saints claimed their home opener at Memoria Hall Gymnasium 91-85 over Newberry College.
It was the second meeting in five days for the two programs. North Georgia (3-0) was victorious in both contests with the Wolves (1-2), but Wednesday night, it did not take overtime for the Saint men to get the job done like it did in their last meeting on Saturday.
Wednesday's win marked the fourth-straight year the Saints have won their home opener and gives North Georgia a 21-5 record in out of conference action within the confines of Memorial Hall Gymnasium since moving up to the NCAA Division II ranks.
The teams matched up well on the hardwood once again as both teams shot close to 47% from the field, but five more made shots by the Saints, including two three-pointers, along with four more free throws proved to be the difference on the scoreboard.
North Georgia was able to capitalize on winning the opening tip and went on to control the early pace of the game, but Newberry remained close and never gave the Saints much breathing room.
With just 1:44 remaining in the first half, the Wolves found themselves with a one-point, 40-39 lead off a Quayshun Hawkins three-pointer, but just 12 seconds later, Lamar Richardson answered with a three-pointer of his own to push the Saints back into the lead back. It was a lead they would never relinquish from there including taking a 42-41 lead into halftime.
The second half saw North Georgia connect on 21 of their 38 looks from the field (55.3%) as the Saints stretched out their lead to as many as 12 with 11 minutes remaining in regulation off a jumper by freshman Corey Green.
But Newberry refused to quit, closing back within three points off a Xavier Holmes layup with just over six minutes remaining, and again off a Brunes Charles layup just a few plays later.
Through it all, the Saints remained resilient and held on through the waning minutes of the game, withstanding a fast-paced attack by the Wolves.
For the third game in a row, Ishmael Hollis led North Georgia in scoring and recorded his second double-double of the season off 17 points and 10 rebounds, five off each the offensive and defensive glass. Hollis went 6-11 from the field and matched Richardson's team-high four treys in the win while also swatting away two balls.
Just missing out on double-doubles of their own were Scott Windom and Chris Tanzy. Windom had 14 points and eight rebounds while Tanzy came off the bench to score 13 points and set up another eight scores.
Richardson was the final Saint to finish in double-digit points as he recorded 16 points.
Hawkins led all scorers in the contest with 22 points while Holmes added 21 to Newberry's total. Demarkus Smith and Charles also finished with double-digit point totals as they recorded 12 and 11 points respectively.
The Saints will not be in action again until they travel to Anderson, S.C. where they will take on South Atlantic Conference foe Anderson University on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7:00 p.m.