ANDERSON, S.C. – Paced by three players in double figures, the Anderson men’s basketball team won its fifth home contest of the early season by topping Peach Belt opponent Georgia College, 69-63, Saturday afternoon at the Abney Athletic Center.
Anderson (6-1) stretched its win streak to six games and improved to 41-8 over the past four seasons at the Abney Center, while Georgia College fell to 3-2 and had its early-season win streak snapped at two.
Clinging to a 58-57 lead with 3:14 left in the game following a 3-pointer by the Bobcats’ Nate Hamilton, the Trojans sank 11-of-12 free throws inside the final three minutes to claim the win.
The Trojans, who were third in the nation in free throw accuracy before stumbling at the line in Wednesday’s win past North Greenville, connected when it counted in the final moments against the Bobcats, with senior guard Denzail Jones hitting all six of his attempts down the stretch.
The final 10 minutes of the contest saw four ties, before forward Bo Holston drained a 3-pointer from deep in the left corner to give the Trojans a lead they would not relinquish, at 55-52, with 5:28 left in the game. Bobcat junior guard Aaron Robinson pulled Georgia College within 60-59 at the 2:41 mark, but the visitors would get no closer, as Jones countered with a pair of free throws.
Neither team was able to build more than a nine-point lead in the game, which featured three ties before the closing minutes.
With the Trojans holding an early 7-2 lead, Georgia College went on a 12-2 run to claim a five-point advantage with just less than 14 minutes left in the opening half and edged to its largest lead of the game, 20-14, on back-to-back 3- pointers from Hamilton and Ryan Lively, at the 9:21 mark.
But the Trojans battled back with a 15-2 outburst of their own, as sophomore guard DJ McGowan ignited the surge with a short jumper, then Holston scored five straight for the Trojans. Junior guard Chandler Hash regained the lead for AU with a pair of free throws and consecutive 3-pointers, first from Jones, then Hash, built the Anderson lead to 29-22 with 2:07 left in the first half.
McGowan dropped in a trey and junior Kyle Sledge added a jumper to extend AU’s 30-24 halftime lead to nine with 18:53 left, but the Bobcats trimmed the advantage to just one on two occasions over the next six minutes, before Scott Ferguson knotted the score at 44-44 midway through the second stanza and setting up the final minutes.
Jones finished with a team-high 17 points, while Hash added 14 and Holston netted 11. Sledge, in just his fourth career start and first since his freshman campaign, nearly posted his second career double-double, recording nine points and pulling down eight rebounds.
Ferguson led all scorers with 19 points and collected a game-high 11 rebounds to complete the double-double.
Anderson does not return to the Abney Center until the New Year, as the Trojans play three road games in four days, and four games in eight days, beginning with Limestone on Wednesday. AU has a quick turnaround, visiting Division I College of Charleston on Thursday, then travels to Winston-Salem State on Saturday.