Georgia Southern Loses Heartbreaker in Overtime at Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. - With six seconds left in regulation against Auburn Wednesday night, junior guard Ben Drayton III (St. Marys, Ga.) launched a three-pointer to tie the game at 76 and send Georgia Southern to its second straight overtime game. The Eagles had erased a 27-point halftime deficit to force the extra period, but three straight free throws by the Tigers would preserve a four-point lead and the 88-84 victory at Auburn Arena.
Auburn's Earnest Ross was the game's top scorer with 20 points but Eric Ferguson (Statesboro, Ga.) registered a double-double with 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Auburn moved to 5-7 overall while Georgia Southern fell to 4-10 on the season.
"There are no moral victories in this program, we are here to compete at the highest level," said Eagles Head Coach Charlton "C.Y." Young. "We struggled in the first half and I challenged our team at halftime. Every time I challenge them, they respond. Most teams in this situation would've laid down, but we didn't. This is probably the most disappointed I've been since I was named head coach at Georgia Southern, but also the proudest I have been."
Two free throws by Drayton would put Georgia Southern within one point of the lead, 85-84, with 38 seconds left in overtime. A foul by Ferguson following a timeout sent Auburn's Josh Wallace to the line where he made one of two attempts to put the Tigers up by a pair. The Eagles would have a chance to counter, but a missed GSU jumper and rebound by Auburn forced Georgia Southern to foul with six seconds left .Two successful free throws by Ross would put Auburn up by four points.
Behind 68.0 percent shooting from the field in the second half and a 24-7 run, the Eagles sliced a 27-point Tiger lead to 10 points with 10 minutes left to play. The lead would dwindle to single digits twice during the next five minutes when a trey by Zuri James (Stone Mountain, Ga.) put the Eagles within seven points, 70-63.
Both teams would swap baskets with the Tigers clinging to a five-point advantage at the 2:12 mark. Another trey by James made it a two-point 72-70 ballgame with two minutes left in the second half. James finished the night with a career-best 18 points.
A Ferguson layup brought the Eagles within one point until a pair of free throws by Ross lifted the Tigers to a three-point lead with 1:28 remaining. A Georgia Southern turnover provided another opportunity for Auburn to put the game away, but the Tigers missed two close-range shots. A big defensive rebound by Rory Spencer (Atlanta, Ga.) gave the Eagles the final possession with 19 seconds left.
With Auburn holding the 76-73 lead, Drayton's trey from behind the arc put the two teams back at a tie for the first time since the 18:31 mark of the first half. Overtime was in order after Auburn missed a layup as the final two seconds ticked off the clock.
Auburn outscored Georgia Southern 32-8 over a 10-minute span to break a 2-2 tie after the first 90 seconds in the game. Eleven first-half turnovers for the Eagles gave extra possessions to Auburn and a solid shooting percentage of 54.5 helped the Tigers extend their lead to go up 52-25 at the break.
Auburn connected on seven of 14 three-point attempts in the first stanza while holding GSU to only 26.1 field goal shooting and six field goals. The Eagles' comeback was driven in part by nine three pointers while Auburn was 1-6 from behind the arc in the second half.
Four Eagles recorded double figures with Drayton and James following Ferguson's 19-point total with 18 points each while Spencer scored 11. Ferguson's 12 rebounds tied a career high. Drayton, whose 18 points all came after the first half, tied a career best with nine assists.
The Eagles return to Statesboro for a two-game homestand, playing host to a non-conference opponent in Eastern Kentucky on Sunday, January 2nd at 2 p.m. and resuming SoCon play against Western Carolina on Wednesday, January 5th at 7 p.m.
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- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Thursday, 30 December 2010 02:33