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GC men rally to drop Pensacola in overtime

January 18, 2014   23:18 PM

Jason Shoot/News Herald Staff

PANAMA CITY — Gulf Coast picked up a victory against the most battle-tested team in the Panhandle Conference on Saturday night.

The Commodores fought back from double-digit deficits on two occasions to extend the game beyond regulation, and Devon Baulkman took over from there to lead GC to a 74-63 overtime victory over Pensacola at the Billy Harrison Field House.

GC’s win made a mess of the conference standings as three teams are now tied for second place behind frontrunner Chipola. The Commodores (14-7 overall) pulled even with Northwest Florida State and Pensacola at 2-2 through the first round of conference play.

Pensacola’s first three Panhandle games were all decided by four points or fewer, and the Pirates were playing their first contest since posting a four-point win over NWF State in Pensacola last weekend. The Commodores showed more resolve than their opponent in the game’s most important minutes, however.

The Pirates led 46-36 with nine minutes left in the second half after Leonard Livingston hammered down an alley oop and converted a three-point play after he was fouled on the dunk. Pensacola still led 50-44 with 6:10 remaining and 55-49 with 2 1/2 minutes to go in regulation.

Basil Deveaux converted a three-point play to trim GC’s deficit to 55-52. Kevin Baker’s two free throws pushed Pensacola’s lead back to 57-52, but Elliott Cole fired in his third 3-pointer of the second half to pull GC within 57-55 with 1:45 left.

Baulkman knocked down a 17-footer to tie the game at 57-all with 58 seconds remaining, and both teams missed on drives to the basket in the last minute to force the extra session.

Andrew Fishler banked in a 15-foot jumper on GC’s first possession of overtime, and Baulkman and Deveaux added buckets to give the Commodores a 63-57 advantage. After a Pensacola free throw, Baulkman added a 3-pointer for a 66-58 lead.

Cole preserved the Commodores’ lead with four straight free throws in a 12-second span, and Ron Whitaker and Baulkman made 4 of 4 free throws in the game’s final 57 seconds.

“I thought our guys, they didn’t panic,” GC coach Jay Powell said. “College basketball these days, it’s a game of runs. We were just trying to keep our young men focused on the task at hand.”

Pensacola scored the game’s first seven points and led 13-3 on Rozelle Nix’s free throw with 14:30 remaining in the first half. Livingston boosted the Pirates’ lead to 17-5 with a layin 13 minutes before intermission.

Cole provided a spark with a three-point play for the Commodores to jolt the offense out of its doldrums, and GC finished the half on an 18-6 run. After Livingston’s bucket, Pensacola was held to one field goal for the remainder of the half.

Cole hit a 3-pointer to give GC its first lead (21-20), and Deveaux’s pull-up jumper in the lane evened the score at 23-23 at halftime.

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