MEMPHIS — Christian Brothers’ dominance of North Alabama continued Thursday night.
The Buccaneers took advantage of some horrendous first-half shooting by the Lions to build a big, early lead on the way to a 69-54 victory over UNA.
It was the first Gulf South Conference loss for UNA (9-2, 2-1 GSC), which has now dropped six straight to CBU. The Lions have never won in CBU’s Canale Arena.
“I don’t have an answer, other than I didn’t do a good job getting us ready to play our first conference road game,” coach Bobby Champagne said. “You have to get off to a good start to win on the road and we didn’t. That’s on me.”
UNA made just 5 of 33 shots (15.2 percent) from the field in the first half in falling behind 23-16 at halftime. The Lions got only four points from their starters in the half.
The Lions quickly became frustrated as the shots would not fall, while the Buccaneers (7-3, 2-0) were able to keep the game at the slow pace they prefer.
“Their offense is real boring, but it’s effective,” guard Marquel Darrington said. “We wanted to play at a faster pace but they controlled it. We were never able to get them out of their comfort zone.”
The Lions did not make a shot until Nathan Spehr hit a jumper at the 13:25 mark of the first half, after CBU had scored the game’s first nine points. The Lions trailed by as many as 13 in the first half before making a late run. Wes Long hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to trim CBU’s lead to 23-16 at halftime.
UNA tried to make a run early in the second half. Darrington made a layup after a steal and Bruce Adams buried a trey to cut the margin to 25-21.
But that would be as close as the Lions would get. CBU’s Sidy Sall scored seven straight points in a 9-0 spurt that pushed the lead to 34-21 with 13:49 remaining.
“We cut the lead to four and then we turned it over three or four times,” Champagne said. “You can’t do that against a team like Christian Brothers and they took advantage of it.”
Long scored five straight points for UNA and his 3-pointer cut it to 34-26. CBU then scored eight straight points to put it away. UNA would not get the lead under 12 the rest of the way.
UNA’s shooting improved to 48.5 percent in the second half. The Buccaneers, however, shot 72.7 percent in the final half.
“We have no excuses; we just didn’t make shots,” Darrington said. “The energy and spark that we usually have wasn’t there tonight. We were kind of flat the whole game.”
Leading scorer Rashaun Claiborne, who came in averaging 16.5 points per game, was held scoreless and was 0 for 10 from the field.
Adams led UNA with 12 points, followed by Corey Ricks with 11 and Long with 10. Michael Drake paced CBU with 16 points.
“Corey Ricks played well late and Jere Vucica played with good energy, so we had some positives,” Champagne said. “But you can’t count on two freshmen to lead you on the road in this league. We need our upper classmen to step up.”
UNA will play at Delta State on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at
256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.