Lions overcome slow start, win home opener over Bryan College

Junior forward Lazar Petrov pulls up for the shot against Bryan College Nov. 17. The Lions won 82-69.

It was a slow start for the men’s basketball team but the Lions finally pulled away in the second half to beat Bryan College 82-69 Nov. 17 in Flowers Hall.

UNA (2-1) used a 17-6 run led by senior forward Calvin Dade who scored every point for the Lions during the stretch. Dade only scored one point in the first half and finished the game with a team-high 18.

“We had to get a good lead in the second half,” Dade said. “We really just focused on defense. We had no problem scoring but we knew our defense was going to give us the win.”

The Lions led Bryan College by only five at halftime, with a score of 43-38. UNA struggled to contain 6’2” forward Brandon Cole in the first half as he finished with 21 points.

“Bryan is a good team. I don’t care what league they’re in,” said coach Bobby Champagne. “I don’t care if their best player is a 6’2” post player. I watched him on tape against Austin Peay and he did the same thing on Austin Peay’s guys who are 6’9” 6’10” athletes. I knew he was going to be a hard guard.

Bryan College competes at the NAIA level and came into Flowers Hall with a 5-0 record.

UNA finished the game shooting 53 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point land.

“We knew they were going to double the post and we did do a very good job of reversing the ball in the second half,” Champagne said. “That’s why we shot so well.”

Champagne said he was glad to see so many players contribute to the win.

“I’ve been talking about our lack of depth but tonight 10 guys played and 10 guys for the most part contributed,” he said. “Calvin Dade gave us a spark and Jeff Hodge, a freshman, scored 16 points.”

Senior guard Nathan Spehr finished with 15 points and hit three shots from behind the arc. Junior forward Jere Vucica had 13 points and six rebounds in only 17 minutes of action.

With the win, the Lions move back over .500 after splitting with the University of Tampa and Saint Leo University in Huntsville Nov. 14 and 15.

The Lions host Martin-Methodist College Nov. 22. The tip-off time has been changed from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. due to the UNA football playoff game at noon.

“Everybody with a football ticket gets in free so I expect to see 10,000 people in Flowers Hall,” Champagne said.