UNA women pulls off the upset

After jumping off to a big 13-point lead at halftime, the Lions got down by nine in the second half before coming away with a comeback win at UAH.

The Lions (14-12) made clutch baskets and free throws down the stretch in the upset win over the conference leader UAH (21-5) with a final score of 81-77. The win knocked the Chargers out of a first-place tie.

“Our seniors have never lost to them at UAH, and it was big for them,” said head coach Terry Fowler. “They were extremely motivated to end our streak. It’s the UAH game. They beat us at our place, and we beat them at theirs. That’s how rivalries go, and it will be big for years to come.”

In the first half, the Lions got off to a hot start, shooting 62 percent for the half while playing tough defense, holding the Chargers to 32 percent to carry a 46-33 lead into halftime.

“I thought our preparation was great all week,” Fowler said. “We weren’t guessing; we were seeing the plays out on the court and probably played our best half of the season.”

In the start of the second half, the Chargers came storming out of the gate, tying the game up at 51 with 13:10 left in the second. The Chargers continued with an 18-2 run to build a 62-53 with 10:39 to play.

The Lions then called a timeout and began the comeback.

“During the timeout, us coaches were not the ones settling the players down; it was the players settling each other down, saying ‘It’s our turn to make a run,’ and that’s what’s great to see,” Fowler said.

The timeout wasn’t just for strategizing, said senior guard Jasmine Horne.

“Coach just told us to keep our composure, and when their crowd got into it and they built their lead, we just needed that timeout to settle down and get our composure back,” Horne said.

The Lions finally got the lead back after a three-point play from Nichelle Fillmore, giving the Lions a 64-63 lead with 7:50 to go in the game. The two teams then traded baskets for the next four minutes.

Trailing 75-74 at the 2:20 mark, UNA took the lead for good with back-to-back layups from Dane Jackson and Julia Myers. The Lions held a 79-77 lead when Myers put the game away with two free throws with 14 seconds remaining.

Horne, who had 13 points in the first half, led the Lions with 23 points. Smith connected on a trio of three-point baskets and finished with 20 points on the evening. Myers added eight points and a career-high 14 rebounds for UNA.

“We knew we had to come in here and play hard, and if we play like we played tonight, we can beat anybody in the conference,” Horne said.

The 2012 GSC Basketball Tournament will be held in Niceville, Fla. Tip-off times for the March 1 first-round games will be announced early next week.