by Chandler Lee- GCSU
Broadcaster and sports information student assistant
PEMBROKE, N.C.- En route to their twentieth win of the season, the Georgia College & State University Bobcats (20-5, 14-5 PBC) got a clutch three-pointer from senior Shaun Keaton (Albany, Ga) with 12 seconds to play as the Bobcats held on for an 80-78 victory in the team's next to last game of the regular season over University of North Carolina Pembroke (5-21, 2-17 PBC).
Keaton led the way in scoring for the Bobcats with 22, backing up a spectacular performance he had the game before against Francis Marion University in which he tacked on 31. Keaton moved into fifth place passing Leonard Scott in free throws with 285.
Senior Justin Brown (New Orleans) added 14 off the pine for Georgia College in the victory, along with 11 from freshman Ryan Aquino (Roswell, Ga), tying his career high and 10 from junior Ty Rowland (Lilburn, Ga).
The game was back and forth for much of the first half of play. Neither team led by more than five before the end of the juncture with the Bobcats down 39-37. Georgia College struggled to find their mark from downtown, shooting just .157 percent and hitting 3-of-19 from three. Overall, the Bobcats shot .330 at the split.
After the break, the Bobcats got terrific play off the bench by Brown, who hit three of four from behind the arc to put GCSU ahead and propelling the Bobcats to a 13-1 run early in the second half.
Not to be outdone, the Braves battled back with a 19-9 spurt of their own late in the midpoint of the second half to tie the contest at 72-72 with just three minutes remaining.
After tying the game, junior Graham Martin (Marietta, Ga) buried his first three-pointer of the night with 2:50 remaining. Pembroke then came back with two free throws from senior Demarcus Lyday to put the Braves within one, 75-74. Rowland was able to drive to the hoop on the ensuing possession and rolled in a layup to put Georgia College up 77-74 with 2:02 residing in the game.
The teams shared blank possessions before senior Cortez Brown for UNCP hit a key jumper with 1:03 to go to skip the Braves ahead in the competition 78-77. After the make by Brown, Keaton was fouled after driving to the basket, but uncharacteristically missed both opportunities from the stripe with 51 seconds to play.
After the Bobcats got the ball back on a Pembroke miss, Keaton came down the floor and sank his third three attempt of the night to leap the Bobcats back in front with just 12 seconds remaining.
Pembroke called a timeout and had to bring the ball the full 94 feet of the floor to try to tie or win the game. The ball found the hands of junior Brandon Thomas who tried to tie the game with a last second effort. The Bobcats' Martin was able to block the shot by Thomas. Keaton snatched the ball away and dribbled out the clock for the Bobcat victory.
The Braves were led by three players in double figures. Seniors Lyday and Brown led the way with 22 and 19 points, respectively. Senior David Moore posted a double-double as well, with 10 points and 10 boards.
The Bobcats were able to capitalize on the 18 miscues by Pembroke, tallying 27 points off turnovers. The Bobcats had just six turns in the game, two off of tying a school record.
Georgia College was without their leading rebounder Ken Kemp (Dublin, Ga) for much of the battle due to a knee injury Kemp suffered the game prior against Francis Marion University. Averaging 6.3 rebounds per game, Kemp saw action in just four minutes of the first half and did not hit the court at all in the second period. Georgia College was only bested on the boards by six, a 44-38 Pembroke advantage.
The bench depth for the Bobcats also played a role in the victory, outscoring Pembroke 32-18.
The Bobcats shot just .680 percent from the foul line; however Keaton passed GCSU Hall of Famer Leonard Scott with 285 points from the stripe moving the senior into fifth place on the all time list. Keaton now needs one more point from the free throw line to tie Robert Williams for fourth on the all-time career list.
The 20th win for Georgia College is the 10th time in school history and the seventh occasion under head coach Terry Sellers at the helm. The Bobcats now lead the series against the Braves 25-5.
The Bobcats will be back in action for their final game of the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 28 as they travel to square off against the University of South Carolina Aiken at 7:30 p.m.
Visit www.GCSUBobcats.com to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GCSU Athletics Hall of Fame. The GCSU Department of Athletics 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.