The heavyweight bout between the No. 19 Freed-Hardeman University Lions and the No. 15 Georgetown (Ky.) College Tigers lived up to the hype. The teams drew even nine times and swapped leads 19 times before the Tigers snapped the Lions’ 13-game win streak with an 80-78 final.
After Geraldo Lane dropped a layup to start the game for the Lions, (14-3, 10-1 MSC) Georgetown’s Jake Ohmer answered the first of his 31 points after a steal. JaQuan Lax and Ryley McClaran began to open things up from the outside for the Lion offense, bucketing four long balls. McClaran had two of those on successive shots to spark a 10-0 run for the Lions to give the men in maroon and white a 24-18 lead with 7:58 remaining in the opening half. Later, the Tigers answered with a six-point streak of their own to take a one-point lead with 4:52 left in the half. FHU and GC swapped scores for the last few minutes of the half before a triple and a layup from the hosts ended the first frame with Georgetown leading 41-38.
The Georgetown (15-2, 9-2 MSC) defense showed off to start the second half, tallying back-to-back steals and scores to jump out to a nine-point advantage before the Lions could get a shot off. After the Tigers extended their lead to a game-high 12 points with 17:04 remaining, Freed-Hardeman slowly began to chip away at the Georgetown lead. Hunter Scurlock joined McClaran with 3-point makes, followed by a layup from Brandon Thomas. JJ Wheat drew an opportunity for an and-one attempt, where his made free throw knotted the game 58-58 with 12:01
Across the final 10 minutes of play, neither team would lead by more than two possessions. While the Lions drove into the paint to bucket their points, the Tigers made their free throws. Georgetown with 18-25 from the charity stripe in the game, including going 9-10 in the last 10 minutes of play. Wheat drained a 3-pointer right before the buzzer sounded to pull FHU within one point, and a quick foul stopped the clock. The Tigers made one of the free throws before missing the second, hearing the horn sound while fighting for the rebound.
JJ Wheat led the Lion offense, scoring a team-high 19 points. Ryley McClaran followed with a 4-8 game from beyond the arc to help finish with 17 points. Geraldo Lane’s 6-7 turn at the free-throw line heralded his 14-point effort, while Brandon Thomas tallied 12 points.