Dawgs Suffer Heartbreaker at Vandy

NASHVILLE - The Georgia men's basketball team led by five with under 30 seconds to play in regulation, but allowed 16th-ranked Vanderbilt to tie it before taking control in overtime as the Bulldogs suffered a heartbreaking 96-94 loss to the Commodores in a rare Thursday evening contest at Memorial Coliseum in Nashville.

Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins continue to lead the charge for the Bulldogs (12-14, 4-9), posting 22 and 21 points, respectively. Vanderbilt's Jermaine Beal – who hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds left in overtime to make it a two possession game – led all scorers on the night with 28 points while dishing out seven assists for the Commodores (21-7, 10-3), who remain in sole possession of second place in the SEC East.

Dustin Ware and Ricky McPhee combined for eight three pointers for Georgia, which saw its highest point total since collecting a 98-68 win over North Carolina A&T on Dec. 28, 2008 in Athens.

"I'm really proud of the competitive spirit of our team," said head coach Mark Fox. "We were behind at the half and really played with a lot of heart and courage in the second half. We were better from the field than they were, made more field goals, won the rebounding battle, only committed 11 turnovers in 45 minutes, and played really well tonight. Still, we leave here with a loss so I'm really disappointed for our kids."

"I'm proud of how they competed and we have to keep fighting forward. I don't believe in moral victories – we came here to get a win and we're not leaving with one, so that's disappointing."

The Bulldogs controlled the run of play early, before allowing Vanderbilt to take the lead, 18-17, with 9:51 to go in the opening period. Vandy led by as many as 10 with just over three to play in the first half, but Georgia was able to cut it to five, 36-31, at the break.

The Bulldogs tied it at 41 on a three from Ware with 15:32 remaining. It would be tied again, this time at 53 apiece, with 10:52 left, before Georgia turned in a small 5-0 run to take the lead at 58-53 with 9:22 to go.

An old fashioned three point play from Chris Barnes established the Georgia lead at seven, 61-54, with 8:12 on the clock, and the Bulldogs would still lead by that margin with 6:44 on the clock following a jumper from Ware. After Vanderbilt tied the contest for the eighth time, 66-66, with 3:13 to play, the Dogs would take a six-point lead, 74-68, with under a minute to play on three late trips to the free throw line.

But the Commodores again charged back, stringing together a long three from Andre Walker and a tip-in from A.J. Ogilvy to tie it at 77 with 15 ticks remaining in regulation and the ball in Georgia's hands. Leslie would miss a jumper from the middle but collect his own rebound and follow it with a lay-up from underneath the basket, but it rimmed out as time expired and it was headed to the extra period.

The contest continued in the same fashion as through the first 40 minutes, as it would be knotted at 82 and again at 84 with 2:18 to play following a Leslie free throw. Vanderbilt scored six straight to take a six-point lead at 92-86 with 28 seconds left, and UGA would trim to a two-point lead with a three from Ware to make it 94-92 with 11 left. But a foul on Barnes sent Beal to the line for the home team, and he sank both attempts to make it a four-point lead.

Barnes converted on a lay-up in traffic down the other end with just one second on the clock and was fouled on the play by Ogilvy. Barnes threw up an intentional missed free throw and Ware came down with it, but was unable to get the tip-in to go as Vanderbilt hung on for the dramatic two-point win.

Georgia was unable to add another win over Vanderbilt, after downing the Commodores 72-58 back on Feb. 6 in Athens. The Bulldogs are now 11-45 all-time when playing at Nashville and have gone winless in the last four seasons in the Music City.

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