Lions men’s basketball win close over Cumberland

North Alabama players run onto the court during pregame introductions at Flowers Hall during their game against Cumberland Nov. 19. The Lions earned a tough win over the Phoenix to begin the season 3-0 for the first time the since 2013-14 season.

The North Alabama men’s basketball team won a dramatic 82-77 game over the Cumberland Phoenix Nov. 19 in Flowers Hall.

The Lions improved to 3-0 this season in a back and forth game that saw eight lead changes and 10 tied scores. This is the best start to a season since UNA began 2013-14 with a 3-0 start.

After trailing the Phoenix 36-34 in the first half, Lions head coach Bobby Champagne said winning the boards was key to escaping with a win.

“(Defensive) rebounds were how we got the victory,” Champagne said. “We definitely couldn’t figure out how to keep them from getting to the basket. Sharwyn (McGee) was our one post guy that figured out how to trap the ball screen and keep them from running their offense.”

McGee, the junior forward, had a stellar night scoring 16 points and leading the team in total rebounds with 11, earning him a double-double.

Senior guard Dimario Jackson, one of the top scorers in the Gulf South Conference led the Lions in scoring with 22 points and added seven assists.

“I was just trying to play hard,” McGee said. “We were down. We weren’t playing good defense, so I was trying to bring some energy when I got in on the defensive end.”

UNA will have seven days of rest before they play their next game against Lane at home Nov. 26.

Champagne said he would like to see the offense improve before then.

“Overall, we’ve got to get better executing on the offensive end and we go to get were our zone is better,” Champagne said. “Defensively, we got to get better at half-court press and three-point-press to change the flow of the game.”