AMERICUS, Ga. — Some clutch 3-point shooting down the stretch paved the way for North Alabama to claim a 64-58 road victory over Georgia Southwestern on Saturday afternoon.
Marquel Darrington hit a pair of treys and Wes Long added another in the final five minutes as UNA (4-0) rallied to earn the win and remain undefeated.
“It was a good win and a different kind of win for us,” coach Bobby Champagne said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well and really had to grind it out. It was good for us to battle and win a game this way.”
UNA trailed 30-28 at halftime before rallying early in the second half to take a 38-31 lead after a layup by Kenyan Jackson. The Lions led 47-42 midway through the second half when the Hurricanes went on a 9-0 run to go up 51-47 with 6:56 to play.
Darrington cut the margin to two with a layup and then nailed the 3-pointer to put the Lions up 52-51 with 4:58 remaining. Darrington added two free throws and Long hit a trey to push UNA’s lead to 57-52.
Georgia Southwestern pulled within two with 2:12 left before Darrington buried another 3-pointer to push the UNA lead to 60-55 with 1:52 to go. The Hurricanes got back within two with 22 seconds remaining, but Nathan Spehr hit two free throws with 16 seconds left to put UNA up 62-58. The Lions then forced a turnover and Bruce Adams sealed with win with a layup.
UNA finished with 13 turnovers, while forcing the Hurricanes into 23 turnovers.
“We did a good job forcing the turnovers and that was a key for us,” Champagne said. “K.J. (Jackson) did a great job taking care of the ball. Marquel had sprained his ankle early in the half and I wasn’t sure if he would be able to go, but he came back in and made some big plays.”
Rashaun Claiborne led the Lions with 14 points, followed by Darrington and Lonnie Smith with 13 each. Adams added 10 points.
“We got in some foul trouble early and Lonnie came in and really gave us some energy off the bench,” Champagne said. “We really had to battle today.
“Georgia Southwestern has had some injuries, but it’s still a good region win on the road. Now we have to come back and take care of business at home.”
UNA will host Lane College on Monday night before beginning Gulf South Conference play at home Thursday against West Florida.