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Defense gives Gulf Coast men triumph

December 30, 2013 21:35 PM

Jason Shoot/News Herald Staff

PANAMA CITY — The shooting may go cold and the ball-handling may get a little messy, but Gulf Coast's defense seemingly does not waver.

Sophomore center Andrew Fishler spearheaded a spirited effort defensively, and five GC players scored in double figures as the Commodores earned a 79-64 victory over USC-Salkehatchie in the Gulf Coast Holiday Classic on Sunday.

Playing its first game in two weeks, GC improved to 11-5 with the win at the Billy Harrison Field House. The visiting Indians dropped to 10-4.

In two other tournament games earlier in the day, No. 4 Northwest Florida State defeated East Georgia State 102-87, and fifth-ranked Chipola rolled to a 91-69 victory over Central Georgia Tech.

Gulf Coast held the Indians to four field goals in the first half to 38-26 lead at halftime, and the 7-foot Fishler was a disruptive force in the paint. USC-Salkehatchie made just 2 of 13 shots challenged by Fishler in the game and was 0 for 9 on such attempts through the first 20 minutes.

The Indians quickly trimmed its deficit to single digits in the second half and pulled within 47-45 on Jimmy Givens' 3-pointer with 13:10 left in the game. GC's Ron Whitaker answered with a 3-pointer on the other end, and an Anton Waters free throw boosted the Commodores' lead to 51-45.

Another Givens 3-pointer helped USC-Salkehatchie close within 64-60 with 3:24 left, but GC made 11 of 13 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. The Indians converted only two field goals after Givens' bucket.

"We were dialed in defensively," GC coach Jay Powell. "There were a few times when we were caught looking on backdoor cuts, but our backside defense was good. Hopefully tomorrow we'll do a better job."

Fishler finished with 11 points and hammered down three slam dunks on the offensive end. His long arms were very disruptive on the other end of the floor, where USC-Salkehatchie players frequently had to adjust shots mid-air with Fishler standing between them and the basket.

"He does a great job altering shots and blocking shots," Powell said.

Jonathan Wade scored a team-high 16 points for GC, which is allowing 60 points per game this season. Whitaker and Waters posted 12 points apiece, and Devon Baulkman matched Fishler's total of 11.

Givens paced the Indians with 16 points, and Darryl Bridges added 14.

GULF COAST (79)

Wade 5 6-9 16, Deveaux 3 3-9 9, Whitaker 2 7-8 12, Cole 2 0-0 5, Turner 0 0-0 0, Miner 1 0-0 2, Baulkman 5 0-0 11, Waters 2 8-11 12, Akande 0 1-2 1, Fishler 4 3-4 11. Totals 24 28-43 79.

USC-SALKEHATCHIE (64)

Howard 1 1-1 3, Givens 4 6-10 16, Collins 2 4-6 9, Ellis 0 0-0 0, Grant 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Coleman 1 1-4 3, Honeycutt 1 4-4 6, King 1 6-8 8, Bridges 6 2-2 14, Edwards 0 3-4 3, Brown 0 0-0 0, Khristyuk 1 0-0 2, Hollins 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 27-39 64.

Halftime: Gulf Coast 38, USC-Salkehatchie 26. Three-point goals: GC 3 (Whitaker, Cole, Baulkman), USC-S 3 (Givens 2, Collins 1). Total fouls: GC 26, USC-S 30. Fouled out: Coleman.

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