Lions make huge statement in win against West Georgia

UNA was able to pull off another upset over the 19th ranked West Georgia with a huge performance from Theron Jenkins, capping the 67-62 home win Thursday night.

Jenkins led all scorers for the Lions (12-8, 4-4) as he recorded his eighth double-double on the season with 21 points and 15 rebounds. The Lions also remained hot from behind the arc. Shooting 8-12 from the floor behind two three pointers from Beaumont Beasley, Wes Long and Nathan Spher. With the win, UNA owns the tie-breaker against the Wolves (18-4, 5-3) and has made noise in the GSC standings.

“We thought we had the win in the last game against UAH and this started off the second half of the conference,” said Jenkins. “We were able to pull it together and come away with a great win.”

UNA took a 35-28 lead into the second half and carried momentum after a three point buzzer beater to end the first half by Spher before quickly erased by a 9-0 by West Georgia to gain the lead. Beasley responded with a three to end the run to give the Lions the lead right back at 38-37. With 8:42 remaining in the game, West Georgia’s Da’Ron Sims and a fury of offensive rebounds as a team powered the way for the Wolves to regain the lead 48-46.

“That’s what was killing me because I thought we did a good job in the first half of keeping them off the offensive glass,” said UNA Coach Bobby Champagne. “They are the best offensive rebounding team in the league and in the second half they were grabbing every offensive rebound that they needed and it resulted in and ones.”

UNA relied on Jenkins for most of the second half by feeding him down in the post as he was instrumental in the Lions rally. Wes Long hit two big threes with 5:46 left to get the lead at 5:46 and also another long three to increase the lead to 62-58 with 3:26 remaining in the game. The duo of Jenkins and Beasley never looked back connecting on 5-6 free throws down the stretch to carry the Lions to an upset victory and to back to .500 in GSC play.

“I thought both teams were playing hard and I thought in the second half they came out with a whole lot more energy than we did,” said Champagne. “With Keynan Jackson getting hurt, it put wind in our sail and it made everybody, me included, a little nervous as the game transpired. I thought Spehr as a freshman in a big game stepped up and Long also came up with huge shot.”

The Lions hope to ride the momentum after the win with rival West Alabama coming to town on Saturday with hopes to avenge an early season loss. The Lions are now one game behind West Georgia for sole position of third play with just two home games remaining.

“We’ve got to beat West Alabama because now West Georgia’s only other loss was to Christian Brothers,” said Champagne. “When talking about tie-breakers, we are going to win the tie-breaker over West Georgia and they could very easily win the league. Hopefully we can enjoy the win and be focused tomorrow for practice.”