AUGUSTA, Ga. – Despite an amazing rally in the second half, the Georgia College & State University men’s basketball team (22-6) had its season come to a close Saturday, falling 50-46 to USC Aiken in the NCAA Southeast Regional first round at Augusta State University.
The Bobcats had a near-impossible second half comeback, erasing a lead that had been 13 at 31-18 at halftime, actually taking a lead of their own on two occasions.
Georgia College dug a difficult first-half hole. The Pacer lead reached as high as 19 at 22-3 with 7:49 left in the period. Helping power the comeback was senior guard Jake Rios (Bozeman, Mt.) making the most of what would be his final game, scoring 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from behind the arc.
With the Bobcats down four and 1:17 remaining, junior guard Andre Mikell (Snellville, Ga.) was shoved to the ground while throwing up a circus shot that went in, cutting the lead to 48-46 with 57 seconds left. After a missed free throw, the Pacers went 1-of-2 from the line, and the Bobcats had a chance to tie, but they turned it over before they could get off the game-tying three attempt.
Rios was the lone double-digit scorer for the ‘Cats, while Seth Leonard had 17 to pace the Aiken squad. Bobcat forward Josh Hurst (Athens, Ga.) ripped down 12 boards to go with eight points. Mikell finished with eight points, four assists and a pair of steals, while Graham Martin (Marietta, Ga.) had eight points and five boards.
Neither team shot particularly well in the defensive battle, as the Pacers edged Georgia College 35.6 percent (16-45) to 34 (16-47). The ‘Cats made just six field goals in the first half, while the Pacers hit the same number of shots in the second stanza. The Georgia College free-throw shooting—an area of pride this season, as the team was second in the nation in shooting percentage—hurt the ‘Cats today. Georgia College went 8-of-21 (.381) from the stripe, their worst performance of the year.
The loss ends the 2009-10 season for Peach Belt Conference (PBC) West Division Champions Georgia College, making the sixth trip in school history to the NCAA Tournament. The 22 wins by the Bobcats marks the 11th time in school history GCSU has reached the 20-victory plateau.
The GCSU Department of Athletics, winners of the 2008-09 PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 10 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, GCSU prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the Bobcats' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at Twitter.com username GCSUSID for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit www.GCSUBobcats.com to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GCSU Athletics Hall of Fame.