MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - The No. 14 Georgia College & State University men's basketball team (18-4, 11-2 PBC) fell for the first time at home this season, dropping a 69-65 decision to USC Aiken (14-8, 9-6 PBC) tonight (Feb. 13) in the Centennial Center.
The Bobcats dropped their first home game in their ninth home contest of the season, the last home loss coming nearly a year ago, Feb. 21, 2009 to Francis Marion University 67-65.
Georgia College struggled with turnovers in the evening's effort, coughing it up an uncharacteristic 18 times, the most for the Bobcats in a Peach Belt Conference (PBC) game this season.
Despite the turnover bug, the Bobcats kept it close with a massive 45-23 rebounding margin, and at the free-throw line, taking 20 more chances than the Pacers (30-20). The Bobcats out-scored USCA 23-7 from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Graham Martin (Marietta, Ga.) led all scorers with 18 points, going 6-of-6 from the line and hitting a pair of threes. Class- and backcourt-mate Ty Rowland (Lilburn, Ga.) had 15 points, and senior guard Jake Rios (Bozeman, Mt.) added 11.
With 12 turnovers already at the half, the Bobcats still led 32-28. USCA came out of the break firing on all cylinders, to the tune of a 15-2 run. The Bobcats didn't record a field goal in the first 7:35 of the second half, digging a 10-point hole.
The Bobcats got the deficit down to two points on two different occasions in the final two minutes, but in each case the Pacers got key baskets to push the lead back out of reach. Byron Faison hit a runner from the right side with 34 seconds left, and Sterling Council made a pair of free-throws with just six seconds remaining.
USCA was led by Casey McMasters at 15 points, hitting three three-pointers. Mark Brown and Faison each chipped in 14 points.
The loss puts GCSU at 11-2 in conference play, and with the University of Montevallo's losing at Augusta State University today, the Bobcats keep the two-game advantage on the Falcons in the PBC West standings.
The back-to-back losses for Georgia College are the first this season. The ‘Cats dropped their final two of the 2009-10 campaign, the PBC semifinal loss to Augusta State combined with a defeat in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Barton College.
The Bobcats are back in action Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m., traveling to Georgia Southwestern State University.
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.