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GSU wins in double-OT
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Georgia Southern guard Willie Powers, top, drives past Citadel defender Mike Groselle, left, and draws a blocking foul on Citadel guard Cosmo Morabbi during the second overtime period of the Eagles 78-72 victor at Hanner Fieldhouse.

The Citadel, which owns the worst record in the Southern Conference, gave Georgia Southern’s men’s basketball team all it could handle and then some.

And then some more.

GSU, which is in second place in the SoCon South Division, needed double-overtime to beat the Bulldogs, 78-72, on Monday night at Hanner Fieldhouse. A crowd of 1,565 watched as GSU (8-11, 6-3) struggled in its first game since producing a thrilling 64-58 victory against College of Charleston on Saturday night.

The Citadel, which is in last place in the SoCon South Division, fell to 4-15, 1-7.

"Tonight’s game was a root canal to say the least," GSU head coach Charlton Young said of a contest that was tied at 60 at the end of regulation and knotted at 64 at the end of the first 5-minute overtime. "We wanted to come out and try to put them away early. But give Chuck Driesell and his staff credit. They had a great game plan. They played hard, hard. At times, played harder than us.

"But I feel like this is divine to have these types of experiences because in order to win the (SoCon) championship or the championship tournament, you’ve got to be comfortable in this environment: one-possession games, close games. And the only way you can learn to play in this environment is to be in this environment.

"It could have went the wrong way. We made a lot of critical mistakes that we’ve got to go back and cover from a game plan situation, last-second situations. We did things that you just shouldn’t do. But that’s what a young, immature team does until they go through it. But now, because of this situation, the next time we get in it we’ll be a little better."

GSU was led by Willie Powers III, who scored a team-high 19 points and had a game-high eight assists. The senior point guard shot 4 of 10 from the field but he was a critical 11 of 12 from the foul line.

"The Citadel is always a tough team," Powers said. "They test your manhood when you play them. They’re always going to bring it. They’re always going to scrap. I think this definitely was a confidence boost for us. We played a talented Charleston team and then a gritty team like this, it’s definitely a confidence boost."

GSU senior guard Ben Drayton III scored 18 points. He shot 5 of 8 from the field and was 8-of-9 shooting from the foul line. Junior forward Cameron Baskerville scored 11 points.

GSU, which had a 27-24 lead at halftime, shot 77.4 percent (24 of 31) from the foul line in the game compared to The Citadel’s 54.5-percent (6 of 11) shooting.

"We’ve been practicing them non-stop," Powers said of free throws. "We feel like if we’re going to be a championship team, we have to be able to close games and walk to the line with confidence. And I think we did that tonight."

Jelani Hewitt’s 3-pointer game GSU a 56-55 lead with 3:43 to play in the game.

Hewitt’s layup with 52.6 seconds left gave the Eagles a 58-55 lead.

The Citadel’s DeVontae Wright nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 58 with 23.5 seconds to play.

GSU’s Eric Ferguson was fouled under The Citadel’s basket with 5.9 seconds to play. He made his first free-throw attempt but missed his second. But The Citadel was called for a lane violation, allowing Ferguson to shoot again. He made his second shot, giving GSU a 60-58 lead.

The Citadel’s Marshall Harris III received the in-bounds pass, dribbled down the court and scored on a layup with 1.3 seconds to play to tie the game at 60, forcing overtime.

In overtime, The Citadel’s Mike Groselle scored with 3:16 left to give the Bulldogs a 62-60 lead. Groselle finished with a game-high 20 points and game-high 14 rebounds.

GSU’s Cameron Baskerville scored on a jump shot to tie the game at 62.

With 1:16 left in overtime, Groselle made two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 64-62 lead.

GSU’s Ferguson scored to tie it at 64.

The Citadel’s Wright attempted a 3-pointer as the seconds ticked off the game clock, but the ball bounced off the rim and time expired, forcing a second overtime.

In double-overtime, The Citadel’s Harris scored with 43.6 seconds left to cut GSU’s lead to 74-70. Harris finished with 14 points.

With 32.4 seconds left, GSU’s Drayton made both free throws for a 76-70 lead.

The Citadel’s Harris scored to cut it to 76-72.

GSU’s Powers made both free throws to make it 78-72.

"They handled adversity," Young said of GSU. "They stayed together. They didn’t wilt. And they found a way to pull it out in a very, very high-pressure, high-intensity situation."

GSU’s next game is at 8 p.m. Thursday at Samford (5-13, 2-5), which is in last place in the SoCon North Division.


Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.