Lions handle Bulldogs in home opening victory

Junior guard Dimarrio Jackson dribbles up court in UNA’s 89-54 victory over Fisk University. The Lions, who are 11-2 in home openers under head coach Bobby Champagne, improve to 1-2 on the season with the win.

After a slow start in the first few minutes, the UNA men’s basketball team pulled away from Fisk University, winning its home opener 89-54 Tuesday.

Struggling to score in the first few minutes, the Lions (1-2) finished the first half strong, taking a 41-19 lead into the locker room. UNA continued to extend its double digit lead in the second half, securing its first regular season win.

“If you saw some of the mistakes we made in Florida (last week), you would be able to see the progress we made today,” said UNA head coach Bobby Champagne. “We had guys not making the same mistakes they did last weekend.”

Senior Bilal Richardson led the scoring with 14 points on the night. Junior Dimarrio Jackson helped the Lions with a team-high five assists and added two steals.

“We’re starting slow, and we still have some things to work on, but we are becoming a team,” Richardson said. “We have a good team this year, and we’re really starting to gel. Going into conference, we wanted to start strong, and we hope to keep it going.”

The Lions saw exceptional play from three freshmen: Jetani Hunter, Tavaras Tolliver and Dakota Holtzclaw. Hunter, who redshirted last season, finished with 13 points. Tolliver also added 13, while Holtzclaw had 11.

“All of those freshmen played tonight and didn’t (over)think so much,” Champagne said. “They were a step or two slow (in previous games) because they were trying to think about what they were doing. Tonight it was a little bit quicker from to their head to their feet, and that was good to see.”

Champagne, who is 11-2 in home openers at Flowers, said a strong start is imperative for the Lions, no matter where they play.

“I’m just happy we won the game,” Champagne said. “I’m happy that, because we got better today, we we’re able to get a win. It doesn’t matter where we are, but I am glad we aren’t playing a bunch of games on the road. It’ll be nice to get some fans in (Flowers) Thursday and Saturday.”

The Lions will host two additional games in Flowers Hall this week, including Oakwood University Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. and Kentucky Wesleyan Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.