Lions hope victory starts season turnaround

Junior guard John Fletcher defends a Christian Brothers University player Jan. 10. The Lions lost 62-61 but turned around and defeated Union University Jan. 12 to close out the four-game home stand. The Lions plan to carry the momentum on the four-game road trip beginning Jan. 15.

If there is one thing the men’s basketball team has been consistent on, it is being inconsistent.

UNA (6-9, 3-6) suffered a 13-point loss to Mississippi College Jan. 5 only to turn around and pull out an impressive 84-63 victory over Union University Jan. 12. The Bulldogs were tied for first place in the Gulf South Conference coming into Flowers Hall, but after the Lions tied it at four at the 17:13 mark, Union never recovered as UNA dominated the scoreboard the rest of the way.

“Together was the difference tonight,” said junior forward Jere Vucica. “Finally everybody played hard, finally everybody played for the guy next to them. We locked up on defense and everybody helped.”

Vucica posted a career-high 25 points and 13 rebounds for the Lions.

“That’s the best I’ve seen Jere play since I watched his highlight video when he was in junior college,” said head coach Bobby Champagne.

Senior forward Calvin Dade also had a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Senior guard Nathan Spehr put up 19 points, while connecting on three shots from behind the arc.

“I thought Union was playing as good as anybody in the league,” Champagne said. “I’m happy for the guys — they get rewarded for their effort. We didn’t get rewarded for the second half against Delta State and we didn’t get rewarded for our effort against Christian Brothers.”

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Lions.

“I think this win means a lot and I think it is going to get us going,” Vucica said. “We’ve been having team meetings with just the players with everybody talking and trying to figure out what we’re doing wrong and I think we finally clicked.”

The Lions are currently ranked No. 10 in the conference standings but are confident they can move up before season’s end.

“I hope we can continue playing like we just did,” Vucica said. “I know we will because we have to, with just 13 games left I’m focusing on getting that third straight NCAA tournament bid.”

UNA now faces a four-game road trip before returning to Flowers Hall Jan. 29.

“We’re halfway through the season and there’s a lot of stuff that can happen,” Champagne said. “Everybody is a sprained ankle away from not being very good.”

The Lions will first visit the University of West Georgia Jan. 15.

“West Georgia is who I think is the most talented team in the league,” Champagne said. “They have two really good guards from last year back. They lost one big kid inside, but I think they are better this year.”