Lions season ends in first round of conference tournament

The men’s basketball team could not repeat its success from last Feb. 28, as UNA lost to the University of Alabama-Huntsville 97-79 March 3 in the Gulf South Conference tournament.

UAH started the game on an 8-0 run and never looked back, cruising to a double-digit lead before the end of the half and maintaining the margin throughout the game.

“I think the way Huntsville approached the game changed (from Saturday),” said head coach Bobby Champagne. “They had a lot more bounce and a lot more energy and that’s what happens when you play at home.”

The Lions end their season with a 13-16 record and will now focus on replacing three key seniors: Forwards Calvin Dade and Marcus Landry and four-year guard Nathan Spehr.

“We’re losing a four year starter in Nathan (Spehr), a double-double guy in Calvin (Dade) and a big-time rebounder in Marcus (Landry),” Champagne said. “Whether they get replaced by guys who have been here and are proven or by recruiting, that has to happen.”

Dade, who led the Lions with 23 points in the loss, said the feeling of knowing he would never play another game in purple and gold hit him immediately.

“It hit me as soon as (Champagne) subbed me out with a minute left in the game,” Dade said. “I knew that was it. I’ll be here another semester so I’ll be attending some games and see where I go from here.”

Spehr, the only player from this season’s team to play all four years at UNA, added 15 points and eight assists in his last game with UNA.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s over,” Spehr said. “Coach (Champagne) came up to me after we lost and said ‘tomorrow would feel weird’ but I don’t think it has hit me yet.”

Despite the success that UNA had found in the second half of the season, the Lions had problems with depth. Champagne said that it would be tough losing three guys to graduation after ending the season with eight players.

“I hate that we’re losing three guys and we only had eight to end the season,” Champagne said. “We need to get some guys.”

Champagne intends to look just about anywhere possible to find the next five starters for UNA next season, whether they are within the university or in recruiting.

“We want the best available player,” Champagne said. “Whether he be a junior college guy, a high school guy, a Division One transfer, an international player, a guy that’s been sitting out, a guy on campus that wants to try out; we’ll do whatever means necessary to get the right guy.”