Lions trying to keep pace
FLORENCE — Making the national rankings does not appear to be a good thing for the North Alabama men.
The Lions cracked the national poll at No. 23 in December after starting the season 9-0. Later that week they lost at home to Tennessee Temple and dropped out of the poll.
Earlier this week UNA again made the rankings, coming in at No. 22 after five consecutive wins. The Lions then lost 87-73 at home to Christian Brothers on Thursday night.
UNA (16-4, 9-3 GSC) tries to bounce back today against Delta State. The Lions are now alone in second place in the GSC standings, one game behind Alabama-Huntsville.
“Losing another home game really puts us in a tough spot,” coach Bobby Champagne said. “We’re trying to keep pace with UAH, and you know they’re not going to lose many.”
Delta State (8-11, 4-7 GSC) has played well of late. The Statesmen are coming off a 59-56 victory over Union on Thursday.
The Statesmen are led by senior forward Terry Leake, who ranks second in the conference in scoring at 17.7 points per game.
UNA defeated Delta State 69-52 in Cleveland, Miss. on Jan. 5. DeAndre Hersey scored 26 points in the win to lead the Lions.
“We caught Delta at a good time because they were coming off a road trip,” Champagne said. “We executed our offense as well as we have all year in that game. But Delta is a much better team than it was at that time.”
The UNA women are locked in a battle with Delta State for the regular season conference championship. Union leads Delta State (13-6, 8-3) by a half game with UNA (15-7, 8-4) a half game behind the Statesmen.
UNA shocked Delta State in the first meeting, battling back from a 24-point deficit to win 59-58. Freshman Jennifer Towne banked in a 3-pointer in the final seconds to give the Lions the dramatic win.
“We know Delta State will be fired up for this one,” coach Terry Fowler said. “It’s a big game for us, but we’ve told the girls that we just need to play our game. The pressure on us is to play well; If we do that I like our chances.”
Today’s matchup features the top two defensive teams in the GSC. UNA leads the conference in scoring defense, allowing 55.5 points per game, while the Statesmen are second at 55.6 points per game.
Fowler said the key for UNA is to play aggressively.
“We can’t play on our heels, we have to attack and handle their pressure,” he said. “In the first game we got them in foul trouble and get into their bench. We need to be able to do that again.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.
Delta State at UNA
Women, 1 p.m. (FM-97.1)
Men, 3 p.m. (FM-93.9)