by Tyler Peck, sports information graduate assistant
MACON, Ga. - Super subs in the first half helped the Georgia College & State University men's basketball team play an up-tempo game against the Mercer University Bears in a Coaches vs. Cancer exhibition contest and have a 35-26 lead at halftime. Free-throws and defense also played a major role in the success of the Bobcats' first half as they hit 13-18 (.722) and forced the Bears to have 12 turnovers. A second half run by the Bears put them ahead and Georgia College was unable to recover, falling 69-66.
Senior Graham Martin (Marietta, Ga.) led Georgia College with 15 points and five steals. Jake Rios (Bozeman, Mt.) aided the ‘Cats with 11 points and Ryan Aquino (Roswell, Ga.) dished in 10 points and five boards.
Senior Robert Thomas (Mankato, Minn.) hit two free-throws to put the Bobcats up 19-16 with 7:55 left in the first half. Mercer's Jeff Smith answered back hitting a three-pointer to tie the game at 19-19 with 6:45. Georgia College went on a 16-7 run to end the half.
The second half was a battle as the Bears slowly got back into the game. James Florence hit two key free-throws to tie the game at 48-48. Then, E.J. Kusnyer hit a three-pointer at the 12:40 mark to put Mercer up 51-48, the first lead of the game for the Bears.
Georgia College fought hard and continued to make a game of it. Aquino scored five points in less than minute as he hit a put-back off a Josh Hurst (Athens, Ga.) miss to make the score 64-60 in favor of the Bears. Aquino then nailed a deep three-pointer to get the Bobcats within two at 65-63. The Bears' Daniel Emerson later grabbed a rebound and hit the put back putting his team up 67-63.
The Bobcats' Martin hit a crucial three with 12.8 ticks left to cut the lead to 68-66. Mercer increased the lead with a free-throw at 69-66 with 5.5 seconds left. A leaning three by Lilburn, Ga. native Ty Rowland came close to sending the game into overtime as he drew iron on a shot from just inside halfcourt.
Rowland was unselfish tonight as he had five dimes and no points. Andre Mikell (Snellville, Ga.) also contributed for Georgia College with eight points. The Bobcat defense caused 22 turnovers tonight, wreaking havoc on defense. Mercer out-rebounded Georgia College 49-34.
The Bobcats are back in action against Newberry College Nov. 18 at home with the game starting at 7:30 p.m.
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.