Men’s basketball prepares for last half of season

Junior Tavaras Tolliver throws a pass in a game against Gulf South Conference foe West Florida Feb. 16, 2017. The men’s basketball team is currently tied for eighth place in the GSC with 16 games left in the regular season.

The North Alabama men’s basketball team halted a three-game skid with a win over Union, but the Lions said they are looking for more consistency.

Lions head coach Bobby Champagne said before the Union win the two-game home stretch would be big.

“It has been frustrating the way we have been losing,” Champagne said. “But the worst thing we can do right now is get down on ourselves. We are back at home for two games and we need to win them both, but it is going to be tough because we are playing two very good teams.”

The Lions fell into the bottom half of the Gulf South Conference standings with the three-game skid, but a win over Union got UNA going in the right direction.

Champagne said free throws need to improve in the coming weeks.

“We’ve struggled to make free throws in all of our losses this year,” Champagne said. “We have good free throw shooters, but we have to start making them in games and not just in practice.”

After the loss to Mississippi College, senior forward Sharwyn McGee said the team’s free throws need to be fixed.

“This is the second game we’ve lost this season because of free throws,” McGee said. “It was very frustrating,because we were missing free throws and they kept making them. We also turned it over too much, and they took advantage of it.”

The Lions have been streaky throughout the first part of the season.

UNA began the year with two losses in GSC/SSC Challenge in Tampa, Florida. The Lions proceeded to win eight of its next nine games including two conference wins against Montevallo and Shorter. UNA’s lone loss in the stretch was to rival West Alabama.

During the three-game skid, the Lions lost conference games to Lee, Mississippi College and Delta State before ending the losing streak with an 82-78 win over Union.

The Lions are tied for eighth place in the GSC standings with rival Alabama-Huntsville. The Lions sit at 8-6 overall, but a 3-4 GSC record through the midway point in the season proves to be a tough task.

UNA will face Christian Brothers at Flowers Hall Jan. 9 before traveling for a three-game road stretch. West Georgia, Auburn-Montgomery and Alabama-Huntsville will be the GSC road games.

With 13 games left, the Lions will need to stay in the top eight of the GSC standings to make the final tournament. A conference tournament bid will keep the hope of the NCAA tournament in reach.

Update: The men’s basketball team lost to Christian Brothers Tuesday night 81-67 putting their record at 8-7 overall and 3-5 in the GSC.