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PEACH BELT CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: GSW men's hoops set to make even more history tonight

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

AMERICUS -- Clayton State's Brandon Robinson and Timmy Downs swapped places at the top of the Peach Belt Conference in scoring after Saturday's upset win against Georgia Southwestern.

Robinson scored 22 points, while Downs was held to 10 on 2-of-12 shooting as the duo led Clayton State on a 16-0 run late in the game and escaped with an 80-72 win.

Hurricanes coach Mike Leeder said a sense of urgency must be displayed tonight when they face each other again in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. GSW (19-7) enters as the top seed in the West, while the Lakers (19-9) are the fourth seed.

"We had a seven-point lead with a little less than seven minutes to go. That's usually when we're able to separate," said Leeder of Saturday's stunning loss. "But we stood a lot on offense, and we stopped getting stops on defense. They're a team fighting for a NCAA berth, and I was surprised by the lack of us fighting back there in that stretch."

GSW has gone 6-4 in its last 10 games after boasting a seven-game win streak in January. It was ranked second in the Southeast Regional standings -- which is comprised of teams from three conferences -- last week behind Augusta State. Three teams get automatic bids while five others are picked at-large. Five teams from the PBC make up the Top 10, including the Lakers, Georgia College and USC Aiken.

While Leeder is confident the Hurricanes will be in the regional tournament, he doesn't want to take any chances.

"I think our body of work, overall, has been pretty good, but you don't want to bow out of the conference tournament on the first day and have to wait until Sunday (when the NCAA Division II Tournament selections are announced) to see if you get in," he said. "We want to play well and keep winning. Then we won't have to worry about getting in."

Western Division champion GSW, which won its first conference title in any sport last week since joining D-II in 2006-07, led 67-60 with 8:08 remaining. But Clayton State held the Hurricanes scoreless until Bobby Glover's jumper with 22 seconds remaining.

GSW shot 36.1 percent for the game, while the Lakers shot 56.3 percent in the second half and made 21 of 26 free throws in the half compared with 4 of 7 for the Hurricanes.

GSW was 10 of 29 behind the arc, with Colin Slotter, who scored a game-high 22 points, made four of them.

"Offensively, we have to get a lot more player movement," Leeder said. "We moved the ball good, but we kind of just standing around. We have to shoot the ball a little better and maybe not be as 3-point shooting conscious. We make a big number, but we get very stagnant at times. We need to get the ball inside and have a high number of free-throw attempts. We're not successful when our 3-point attempts outweigh our free-throw attempts."

The only question player-wise entering tonight is Matt Shaw, who hurt his groin Saturday. Leeder said he will be a game-time decision.

The Lakers' Michael Thorogood and Zach Bradley combined for 30 points on 13 of 16 field goals, and Leeder said the defense needs to play like Mobley did, holding Downs in check.

"They were the tougher team," he said. "We have to get the seven or eight other guys bring the intensity Evan brought. We have to do a better job on those guys (tonight)."

There will be no passes in to the game. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12 or seniors over 55. GSW and Peach Belt students are admitted free with ID.