DAHLONEGA -- In the final home game of the regular season, the University of North Georgia women's basketball team did everything possible to keep their postseason hopes alive as the Saints beat Lander University 91-83 in a Peach Belt Conference cross division matchup Saturday evening.
The Saints (11-14, 9-9 PBC) used the win over the Bearcats (8-16, 5-12 PBC) and a win by the University of Montevallo over Georgia College to take over fourth place in the West Division over the Bobcats entering the final week of the regular season. Georgia College is finished with their divisional schedule and if North Georgia can defeat Georgia Southwestern State University on Saturday, Mar. 2, the Saints will punch their ticket to the PBC Basketball Tournament.
At half time of the game, the newest inductees into the North Georgia Athletics Hall of Fame, the Class of 2013, were introduced to the crowd. Coach Jim Otte, Sr., Anne (Smith) Hyams, Kara (Winkler) Leonard and William Gieler were inducted as the third class into the Hall of Fame earlier in the day at a luncheon before joining their fellow Hall of Famers at the game.
The Saints shot an impressive 57.9% (33-57) from the field to score the season-high 91 points as four players finished in double figures. North Georgia was also 8-19 (42.1%) from three-point range with freshman Molly Rainwater scoring all 15 of her points off five of the team's treys.
Fresh off her record-setting performance of 41 points on Thursday, junior Mimi Hill continued her impressive streak as she led the team with 27 points off a 10-15 shooting performance. She was also 6-6 from the free throw line.
In the last three weeks, Hill has averaged 27.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 60.2% (65-108) from the field. In those three weeks, she has set her career-high in points three different times and also set a new career-high in rebounds at 13 while averaging 35.5 minutes per game.
Sophomore Stephanie Huffman netted 16 points off a 6-10 shooting performance while Jaymee Carnes came off the bench to score 14 points and bring down nine rebounds.
For Lander, Precious Elkins, Lea Saunders and Briana Wade all registered the full 40 minutes while tallying double-digit points. Elkins led all scorers with 29 points off an impressive 13-17 outing from the field and finished with a double-double with 15 rebounds, including eight off the offensive glass.
Wade scored 18 points and Saunders netted 10 while Aarika Judge came off the bench to record 18 points while the Bearcats shot 45.2% (33-73) from the field.
North Georgia opened the game with the freshman tandem of Rainwater and Keeley Chester scoring the first five points, a lead the Saints did not relinquish until Jamie Shaw pushed Lander in front by two off a jumper with 5:26 remaining in the first half. The two swapped the lead back and forth four times from there in the first half with Lander claiming a 43-42 lead at the half time buzzer.
Elkins earned her double-double by the intermission as she had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the first half alone. But North Georgia made the necessary adjustments and came out in the second half to hold her to just 10 points.
The game remained extremely close in the second half with Lander finding a way to hold on to the lead until Hill drilled two of her six free throws to take the lead back for good with 8:35 remaining in the game.
From there, North Georgia never looked back and kept the quintet of Hill, Carnes, Huffman, Rainwater and Chester on the court to secure the eight-point, 91-83 victory despite Lander pulling within two twice in the final three minutes.
North Georgia will close out the regular season with a 5:30 p.m. West Division game at Georgia Southwestern on Saturday, Mar. 2. The Saints will be looking to complete the season-sweep over the Hurricanes after defeating GSW 71-42 on January 24.