Jackson hits go-ahead free throws for win

Senior guard John Fletcher pump fakes a defender against Christian Brothers Feb. 20. The Lions won 73-71 on senior night in Flowers Hall.

by Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel

Close conference games in Flowers Hall continue to be a common occurrence, but Saturday’s game may top them all.

Tied 71-71 with one second to go, UNA’s junior guard Dimario Jackson drew a foul on a loose ball recovery, sending him to the free throw line. Jackson hit both free throws, and Christian Brothers (11-16, 9-12 Gulf South Conference) inbounded the ball and missed the buzzer beater, giving the Lions a 73-71 squeaker.

“It was a crazy finish,” said UNA coach Bobby Champagne. “We had the game won, then we had the game lost and they had it won, then we ended up pulling it out.”

The first half produced a low-scoring effort, as Christian Brothers led 32-23 heading into the locker room. The Lions (16-11, 13-8 GSC) came back in the second half, outscoring the Bucs 50-39 to pull out the win. The lead changed six times.

In the final four minutes, neither team made a single field goal, as the final scores all came on free throws.

Senior transfer Bilal Richardson, who played his final regular season game in Flowers Hall, finished with a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds. John Fletcher, the team’s only returning senior from last season, finished with nine points.

“I always like to win on senior night,” Champagne said. “I don’t know how many senior nights we’ve lost (in previous years). I always like sending those guys out on a high note because they give so much to this program on and off the court.”

The Lions, who maintain a third place tie in the Gulf South Conference standings, take on Alabama-Huntsville to close the regular season. The final game will determine where the Lions play in the conference tournament.

“When we didn’t beat Union the other night, we put (our fate) in someone else’s hands,” Champagne said. “It looks like UAH will finish first, West Georgia second, Union third and it will be between us and Delta State (for the fourth seed and home court advantage).”