UNA Men get revenge on GSC rival West Alabama

After 21 lead changes, the Lions were able to down the Tigers 65-56 in Flowers Hall Saturday, putting the Lions 13-8 overall and 5-4 in conference play.

The Lions only connected 2-4 threes in the first half, shooting 14.3 percent outside and 9-24 inside for 37.5 percent. Going into halftime down 35-30, the Lions had to make key adjustments, which were clearly displayed upon entering the court coming out the second half. Head coach Bobby Champagne said the rebounding edge made all the difference.

“We staggered a lot in the first half offensively, but I think it had a lot to do with what West Alabama was doing, mainly getting offensive rebounds,” Champagne said. “They dominated us in rebounding, but I think we did a great job defensively, held them to shooting 27 percent in the second half, but they still did get a bunch of offensive rebounds, which kept them in the game.”

West Alabama out rebounded North Alabama 50-31 on the game, but UNA won the turnover battle, only committing seven to UWA’s 13 for the game.

“I thought we took care of the basketball well, and they’re a really physical team defensively, so that was big for us,” Champagne said. “We knew we needed to get some energy going on for the defense, (so we) did full-court pressure early, and that gave us some easy baskets.”

The Lions came out of halftime and went on an 8-0 run, putting the score 38-35 and keeping the “Pink Zone” crowd on the edge of their seats for the next 20 minutes of play.

Senior guard Warrick Mastin led all scoring on the night with 23 points, while Beaumont Beasley and Wes Long added 11 points. Theron Jenkins had eight points and 13 rebounds, leading the rebounding edge on both sides for the night.

“At the start of the game, everyone was telling me to be aggressive; from tip-off until the last buzzer what I kept in my head was to play aggressive,” Mastin said. “I just wanted to help my team get the win.”

Mastin said the turnover ratio was a key difference in the game, as the Lions entered the game averaging 13 turnovers per game on the season.

“Since the beginning of the year we’ve had problems with turnovers; throughout the season we started getting better as a team, having less turnovers,” Mastin said. “Certain times during the game when we’re making runs, we get jittery when we’re playing fast with the ball, and we have to learn to slow it down. That’s what we did tonight. We wanted to keep it on and keep it rolling, but we had to slow it down to make some key buckets.”

UNA will travel to West Florida Thursday and Valdosta State Saturday seeking two GSC victories.