Free Throws Sink Flames

Friday, February 7, 2014
Brice Sharp works against North Alabama's Devin McNeil on Thursday night in Walker Arena.
Brice Sharp works against North Alabama's Devin McNeil on Thursday night in Walker Arena.
- photo by Lee University
University of North Alabama went to the free-throw line for what had to be a record 49 times and converted 36 (74 percent) in an 87-78 victory over the Lee Flames in a Thursday evening Gulf South Conference contest in Walker Arena.

The game featured 47 fouls being called, 26 against Lee and 21 against the visitors. Turnovers also proved costly to coach Tommy Brown's club.
Nineteen miscues were chalked up by the Flames, while the Lions had only five floor mistakes the entire night.

The contest was deadlocked at the half, 40-40. After a nip and tuck battle for the first 12 minutes of the second half, North Alabama finally moved out to a 10-point advantage with only 2:28 remaining. Nathan Spehr sank key freebies late and recorded 10-of-10 attempts from the line for the game. He finished with a game-high 20 points.

"We could not get the rebounds and loose balls in the final six or seven minutes." said Brown. "There is no way you can foul their guards and win, but that is what they forced us to do in the final minutes. I just can't believe we committed that many fouls."

The Flames shot plenty well enough to win, making 24-of-47 field goal attempts (51 percent) and hitting 26-of-31 free throws. Cory Billingsley was awarded 12 free shots and canned 11. He finished with 18 points.

Tyquan Roberts enjoyed maybe his best effort of the year inside, making 8-of-12 of his field goal attempts and tallying 18 points to tie Lee's Billingsley in the scoring department. Freshman Jamal Worthington, who powered down a tremendous dunk, tallied 14 points.

For the game, the Flames won the battle of the boards, 39-33, but it was not enough to overcome the 10-point margin the Lions enjoyed at the line and Lee's turnover problems. UNA totaled 24 points off turnovers to just three for Lee. They also outscored the Flames 16-6 on second-chance points.

Brice Sharp grabbed eight rebounds to go along with six points. Chad Lee followed with six boards and Stedmon Ford added five.

Lee's defense held North Alabama to 37 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent (7-of-26) from behind the arc. Marquel Darrington finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in the win. Rashaun Claiborne came on strong late and carded 12 points and seven boards. All five Lion starters scored in double figures.

The Flames (7-11, 3-9) will return to Walker Arena on Saturday and host Union University in a 4 p.m. start. It will be the second game of a doubleheader, featuring Hoops 4 Hope.

North Alabama, picked to win the GSC, improved to 13-8 overall and 7-6 in league play.

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