The University of North Georgia men’s basketball team followed a thrilling overtime win by UNG’s women’s basketball team with a thriller of their own, defeating Young Harris College 90-88 on Wednesday, Jan. 10.
“We had some really good games with these guys,” UNG head coach Chris Faulkner said. “It seems like every single time we play them something like this right here happens.”
At the end of the half the Nighthawks were trailing the Mountain Lions by 10 with a 51-41 score going into the locker room. Their deficit grew later in the second half.
“We missed easy shots,” Faulkner said. “Going into the half I felt like there was things we could correct and we would be fine, but then we came out and got down by 16.”
In the second half North Georgia found themselves down 65-49 against Young Harris, but eventually the Nighthawks started chipping away at the Mountain Lions’ lead.
“I just felt like we just needed one stop, then a score, then a stop, then a score and a stop,” sophomore Ephraim Tshimanga said.
North Georgia eventually brought Young Harris’ lead down to seven when Tyler Dominy made a layup, making the score 73-66. After a UNG stop, Charles Perry got fouled and sunk both of his free throws for UNG to make it a 73-68 game with eight minutes left.
Later in the second half, Demari Edwards of Young Harris was fouled and made his second free throw to increase their lead 88-83 for the Mountain Lions. Tshimanga answered with another layup to bring the Nighthawks within three making, the score 88-85. The Nighthawks made another stop then took advantage of it when Tshimanga fed it to Cantrell and scored, which made the score 88-87 with under a minute left in the game.
Young Harris had the ball with time winding down when the Nighthawks forced a loose ball. Ebo Smith of North Georgia did something unusual, grabbing the loose ball and throwing it over his shoulder down the court without looking.
“When Ebo threw the ball behind his back, he kind of threw it backwards behind his head right there, it could have been a really dumb play or a really smart play,” Faulkner said. “It turned out to be a really smart play.”
Fortunately for North Georgia, Tshimanga was at the other end of the court to receive the pass and laid it in to put North Georgia in the lead with 19.9 seconds left in the game.
“I realized he saw me and I was wishing the pass was a little bit more accurate, but it got there and I took it down the lane when I saw the dude coming down,” Tshimanga said. “I was thinking about pump faking but it was kind of crunch time. I figured that I did not have time for that so I just took it up and it went in.”
Young Harris made a costly mistake, passing the ball out of bounds with nine seconds left. North Georgia converted one last free throw to make it 90-88 and held on to defeat their Peach Belt Conference rivals.