Lions drop pivotal conference game

Senior John Fletcher dribbles back against a Union defender during an 87-73 loss to the Bulldogs Feb. 18. The Lions are in a four-way tie for third place in the conference standings.

Things just got harder for the UNA men’s basketball team.

In a crucial game with conference seed position on the line, the Lions lost to Union 87-73 Feb. 18 in Flowers Hall. With the loss, UNA (15-11, 12-8 Gulf South Conference) is in a four-way tie for third place in the GSC standings, with one of those team being Union.

“I’m kind of concerned about my team,” said UNA coach Bobby Champagne. “I think we’re banged up mentally and physically, and somehow I have to figure out a way to get them rejuvenated and re-energized.”

The Bulldogs (18-8, 12-8 GSC) took the lead late in the first half, hitting two three-pointers to go up 41-35. The Lions never regained the lead, and Union continued to extend it with solid shooting, finishing with 42 percent from the floor.

UNA, who leads the nation in free throws attempted and is second in free throws made, did not make it to the line in the first half, but finished 12-15 in the second half.

“They were being pretty aggressive heading to the basket and finishing,” Champagne said. “When we got to the basket, we weren’t finishing.”

Union had five players score double digits, while the Lions had four. Junior guard Dimario Jackson, who played for the first time since suffering a concussion Feb. 6, led the team with a game-high 20 points.

The Union bench outscored the Lions bench 27-8, as UNA went starter heavy.

UNA hosts Christian Brothers on senior night Feb. 20 in Flowers Hall. The final game of the regular season takes place next week on the road against Alabama-Huntsville.

“Saturday is really important,” Jackson said. “We’re fighting to stay up in the mix, and after losing tonight, it’s going to be a scramble. It’s very important for us to host.”