Lions fall to West Florida

West Florida used an 18-2 run to start the second half to pull away from UNA for a 79-68 Gulf South Conference win Thursday night at Flowers Hall.

UNA (8-6, 1-2) never was able to establish any kind of an effective offense against a physical West Florida (11-5, 2-1), especially from behind the arc. UNA was held to a dismal 3-19 shooting from three-point territory. After holding the Argonauts to just 31 points in the first, UNA could never slow West Florida down and allowed them to shoot 56 percent in the second half of the game.

“Our ineffectiveness of guarding them, our inability to execute our offense, and for the majority of the game we took bad shots,” said UNA coach Bobby Champagne. “We weren’t the aggressor and West Florida was tonight.”

For the majority of the first half, UNA had control of the game with good defense for the most part before West Florida took the lead 22-21for the first time with 5:28 left in the half. Nick Luttrell scored 9 pts. for the Lions to stay close with West Florida to end the first half trailing 32-31. Beaumont Beasley and Theron Jenkins also contributed for the Lions with 7 points each.

With a great position for a possible win in a GSC game, the Lions came out flat, surrendering an 18-2 run that spanned for the first seven minutes of the half to trail 50-33. UNA then answered with an 8-0 run of its own with two big three-point baskets from Wes Long and good defense by the Lions. UNA could never get closer than eight of West Florida, as the Argonauts dominated the glass for the game with 14 offensive rebounds. UNA could never get enough stops as the Argonauts held off the rally for a 79-68 win.

“We made it harder than it should’ve been,” Beasly said. “We just got to guard better and also play harder. We got to rebound, because the defensive possession isn’t over until you grab that rebound, and it’s frustrating not to come up with a way to get some rebounds in the second half.”

With the loss, UNA falls to 8-6 overall and 1-2 in the GSC with big games coming up against Valdosta State on Saturday and a tough Christian Brothers team next Thursday. After the big win against 25th rank West Georgia, UNA has lost two straight games and the defense has hit a bump, giving up high percentage shooting in the second half in both of the losses.

“We took a step back today, and we got to be able to make it up, especially here at home,” Beasley said. “We had a lot of fans come out, and it’s disappointing, so it’s important for us to come back (Saturday) and play well.”