UNA loses in heartbreak to rival UAH

In a packed Flowers Hall, the UNA Lions fell in a close rivalry game against 12th ranked UAH 84-77 Saturday afternoon.

UNA never broke through against the Chargers, as the Lions fell to 11-8 overall and 3-4 in the GSC. Chargers guard Xavier Baldwin made six free throws in the closing minute to put the game away. Beaumont Beasley led all scorers with 27 points and Theron Jenkins also had a big night, scoring 23 points with 12 rebounds for the Lions.

“There is no better way to do it than to play with an atmosphere like that today,” Jenkins said. “We were right there in the end, but we just couldn’t get over the top. Unfortunately, they kept making stops and made all their free throws in the end.”

UNA fed off the crowd early in the first half as they matched baskets with the Chargers for the first 10 minutes of the game. UAH was able to separate from the Lions 28-23 due to outside shooting, making 6-10 three pointers with 7:48 remaining in the half. UNA cut the lead to 32-30 behind a three-point basket by UNA guard Wes Long, but UAH closed out the half with outside shooting to lead 44-36.

The second half was all about making runs. The Lions matched each basket the Chargers made but fell behind 51-40 with 18 minutes to go in the game. The Lions were able to use a 13-0 run capped by a three pointer from Jenkins to give the Lions a 53-51 lead with 12:59 left to ignite the crowd. The Chargers answered by taking back the lead 66-64 with seven minutes to go. The Lions got the lead back 69-66 before the Chargers silenced the crowd with a 10-0 run to lead 76-69 with 4:03 remaining.

“We did some good things to get back in the game,” said UNA coach Bobby Champagne. “We shouldn’t have given the lead back after the big three pointer by Jenkins, but that’s what good teams do.”

For the rest of the game the Lions had to claw their way back and had the opportunity to take the lead after UNA guard Keynan Jackson made two free throws to get to 76-75. On the inbound the UNA pressure succeeded with a steal by Beasley but then turned back over to UAH, allowing Baldwin to make two of his six free throws down the stretch. The Lions could never answer after that, as the Lions fell 84-77.

“I screwed up for us there at the end, and I should have called a timeout,” Champagne said. “We did everything we needed to do by getting in a press to get a steal, and I should have called a timeout. Instead, we turned it right back over. I think our team did an excellent job of putting themselves in a position to win.”

The Lions will have the home court advantage Saturday, giving them another run in the GSC standings.

“Oh, I loved it, and I hope they show up Thursday against West Alabama,” Champagne said. “It was the best crowd since I have been here, and I think they were really in the game. I’m disappointed with the loss, but it was a great game to be a part of today.”