The University of Alabama-Huntsville turned back a late rally by the battling Lee Flames on Saturday evening and posted a 59-52 Gulf South Conference victory.
The Flames found themselves down by 20 points in the second half but continued to fight and had the lead down to just four points and a chance to grab a defensive rebound at the three minute mark. But Huntsville's veteran squad converted six key free throws down the stretch and handed the Flames their 14th defeat of the season against nine victories. In the GSC, Lee drops to 5-12. The Chargers improved to 14-11 and 10-8 against conference competition.
Lee was able to score only 19 points in the first half against a tough Huntsville zone defense. "We simply couldn't make any shots," said coach Tommy Brown after watching his Flames shoot only 24 percent in the first 20 minutes. "Give Huntsville credit, they came out with a good game plan and we came out flat after our big win on Thursday."
Lee picked up the intensity on the defensive end in the second 20 minutes and gave the Chargers all they wanted. It was inspired play by senior Brice Sharp and freshman Bryce Copeland that led the way. Copeland had a career high 14 points and was 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Sharp battled for 12 points and had four rebounds in his final appearance in Walker Arena.
"Our offense certainly missed having two of our leading scorers out of the lineup," admitted Brown. Tyquan Roberts was out with a knee injury as was Stedmon Ford who was suffering from leg problems.
The Charger defense held Lee's leading scorer, Cory Billingsley, to just nine points. Chad Lee helped the Flames command a 42-27 rebounding margin. He finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. Jamal Worthington had just four points but captured six rebounds and blocked four shots.
Huntsville was led by 13 points by Ronnie Mack. Their balanced attack also featured 11 points from Andrew Donovan. He had three shots from behind the arc, while Greg Gardner and Conner Balsi totaled 10 points apiece.
Brown praised the defensive effort of Sharp who held Huntsville's leading scorer Wayne Dedrick to only five points. He also complimented the entire defense in the second half as they held the usually hot-shooting Huntsville team to under 40 percent shooting for the game.
The Flames, who honored Sharp and Muniru Bawa before the contest, will close out the season with three road games. They will be in Pensacola on Monday to face West Florida, travel to West Georgia on Thursday and close out the regular season at Shorter University on Saturday.