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Strong finish gives Commodores first league win

By Dustin Kent

PANAMA CITY — The first half of the Panhandle Conference schedule was mostly miserable for the Commodores, with a heartbreaking opening loss to Tallahassee followed by five successive defeats.

Gulf Coast got the second half of the Panhandle schedule started off with a bang, however, knocking off Pensacola State 76-70 on Wednesday night at the Billy Harrison Field House.

The Commodores (13-11 overall, 1-6 in the Panhandle Conference) outscored the Pirates (13-10, 1-5) 27-12 over the final nine minutes of action to notch their first league win of the season.

“It feels great,” Commodores coach Jay Powell said. “The men worked and worked and worked and deserved to win this game, so I’m proud of them. Sometimes in life you don’t get what you deserve and sometimes in life you do. Fortunately tonight the men got what they deserved, which was a big home win.”

KK Godwin scored 22 points to lead Gulf Coast, with Cameron Holden adding 16 points, Jacolbey Owens 13, and Reggie Rivera 12. Yeikson Montero was the top scorer for the Pirates with 18 points, while De’monte Nelson scored 12 points, and Shaundarius Cowart had 11.

Pensacola State jumped out in front early and held a 25-13 advantage when Godwin made his first bucket of the game, a 3-pointer with 6:17 on the first half clock.

The freshman guard added a steal and a reverse layup moments later, then a 3-pointer from the left corner and another triple from the right corner to tie the game 27-27. Godwin knocked in another shot from deep in the waning seconds of the first half to again level the game at 35-35.

The Pirates regained control in the second half, with Montero hitting a 3-pointer and a lefty hook in the lane to make it 58-49 with just over nine minutes to play.

An offensive rebound and putback by Holden started a 12-2 Gulf Coast run culminating in a steal and layup by Owens to give the Commodores the lead 61-60 with 4:04 remaining.

Nelson gave the lead right back to the Pirates on a driving finish, but back-to-back threes from Holden out of the left corner and Godwin from the right corner put the Commodores back on top for good at 68-64 with 1:31 to play.

Owens added a driving layup against the Pensacola State press, followed by four straight free throws by Godwin and Rivera, and then put the finishing touches on the win by throwing down a one-handed dunk on a long inbounds pass from Holden to make it 76-67.

Despite the win, the Commodores remain in the Panhandle Conference cellar behind the Pirates by a half-game. But Powell said that the victory was still important for building confidence and hopefully momentum to finish out the season.

“It’s game by game, but I’m proud that the guys know that if we go out and compete like crazy that we can win,” he said. “When you have a young team, they can start to question themselves, so to find a way to win tonight says a lot about the young men.”

PENSACOLA STATE (70)

Montero 7 0-0 18, Diaz 2 0-0 6, McDougal 3 0-0 8, Nelson 4 2-3 12, Cowart 4 2-2 11, Hunt 1 1-2 3, Charles 3 4-4 5. Totals: 24 9-11 70.

GULF COAST (76)

Godwin 7 2-2 22, Gordon 2 1-2 5, Owens 6 1-3 13, N’Dolo 1 0-0 2, Holden 5 5-6 16, Burke 2 0-0 4, Kelly 1 0-2 2, Rivera 3 1-6 12. Totals: 27 10-21 76.

Halftime score — Pensacola 35, Gulf Coast 35

3-point field goals: Pensacola State 10 (Diaz 2, McDougal 2, Nelson 2, Charles 2, Montero, Cowart), Gulf Coast 8 (Godwin 6, Holden, Rivera). Total fouls: Pensacola State 17, Gulf Coast 15. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: Holden, Montero.

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