Lions rebounding after first loss

Senior guard Dimario Jackson drives for a layup in North Alabama’s game against Lane Nov. 26 at Flowers Hall. After dropping the game to Lane, the Lions got back in the “W” column with a 86-74 victory over Miles heading in to Gulf South Conference season Dec. 4.

The North Alabama men’s basketball team looks to bounce back from an overtime loss at Flowers Hall Nov. 26 against Lane with Gulf South Conference play looming around the corner.

The Lions led Lane 63-57 with less than three minutes to go in regulation, only to allow the Dragons to make a last minute surge to tie the score at 65-65 and force overtime.

Lane outscored UNA 17-13 in the overtime period to secure the Lion’s first loss of the season.

Lions head coach Bobby Champagne said issues with free throws hurt the team and ultimately sealed their fate.

“The guys practice free throws on their own, and we shoot some at practice,” Champagne said. “That’s a skill (players) can work on their own. Maybe we didn’t pay as much attention to that as we needed to, especially with Thanksgiving week.”

The Lions shot 14-27 on free throws. UNA’s field goal scoring percentages suffered as well. The team shot 39.4 percent on two-point field goals and 32 percent on three-point tries.

Champagne said the team must learn from its missed scoring woes and correct them moving forward.

“We need to finish the game and make the easy shots,” said junior guard Jeff Hodge Jr. “We need to improve all of the little stuff that caused us to lose, and we need to play harder.”

Senior forward Austin Timms was a bright spot for the Lions. Timms recorded a double-double with a team leading 25 points and 10 total rebounds. Hodge was the team’s second leading scorer with 20 points.

Defensively, the Lions struggled to slow down the Dragon’s offensive possessions and to match their rebounds.

“I feel like we could’ve changed the defensive side of the game,” said junior center Sharwyn McGee. “We didn’t rebound as much. I felt like we could have boxed out better as a team. I think our defense was really hurting us.”

UNA had 48 total rebounds during the game, compared to 56 from Lane.

After defeating Miles 86-74 at home in nonconference action Nov. 29, UNA opens GSC play Dec. 4 when in-state rival Alabama-Huntsville visits Flowers Hall.

The Lions hold a 34-24 all-time record against the Chargers dating back to their first meeting in 1985. The “Battle for Highway 72” has become a highly contested rivalry due to the campuses two-hour proximity to each other. Over the past two seasons, the Lions and Chargers have split regular season matchups 2-2 with each team finding victory at home.