The No. 22 Lee men's basketball team remained perfect at home with a thrilling 84-78 comeback victory over West Georgia on Thursday evening from Walker Arena.
The Flames fell behind by as many as 14 points in the first half due in large part to the Wolves forcing early turnovers and hitting five triples. Staring a 12-point deficit in the face at the intermission the Flames rallied to outscore the Wolves, 53-36 in the second half. Jayce Willingham drilled a 3-ball with 4:57 left to give Lee its first lead of the game, 69-67.
Quay Kennedy led the way for the comeback with 26 points and seven rebounds as he darted to the hoop early and often drawing nine fouls and going 9 of 17 from the field.
Kennedy nearly went the distance playing 37 big minutes as leading scorers Ryan Montgomery and Parker Suedekum got in early foul trouble.
"We talked about in the locker room at halftime about coming out with energy and focus in the second half and that's what we did," said Kennedy. "We've find ways to overcome adversity and I just wanted to keep attacking for my teammates and help us get back into the game."
Red-shirt freshman Jayce Willingham also proved to be a key factor in the comeback as he posted 17 points and hauled in six rebounds. Willingham hit 6 of 9 from the field and 4 of 6 from the foul line. Suedekum had 12 points and five rebounds while Montgomery, facing double-teams most of the night, had 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists despite foul issues.
"We don't win this game with out Jayce stepping up tonight," said Lee head coach Bubba Smith. "He had a great week of practice and earned the right to go out there and make a difference for us. He and Quay were excellent tonight. Quay had a great feel out there tonight and was consistently making the right plays for us. When he's getting into a good flow and starting to smile out there like he was in the second half tonight, good things happen for our teams."
Seth Brown-Carter led four Wolves in double-figures with 20 points. Kadeim Jones added 18, Oronte Anderson tallied 15 and Keshawn Heard finished with 10. The Wolves shot 50 percent from the field and hit five triples in the first half but faltered to just 33 percent shooting and 2 of 9 from the 3-point line in the second half.
Lee held a 39-29 advantage on the glass and held West Georgia to just five offensive rebounds and eight second chance points.
"This team continues to showcase such an unselfishness and toughness that is really inspiring," added Smith. "We got off to a slow start with some careless turnovers, but a lot of credit needs to go to West Georgia for making things difficult on us. They are a talented team and have played in a ton of close game this season. They always fight till the end and we knew this was going to be a battle from the start. Our guys just don't give up and we saw some big time fight tonight"
Lee improves to 19-4 overall and 14-2 in the GSC. The Flames hold a half game lead on Valdosta State for first place in the conference standings with just four games remaining. The loss sends West Georgia to 6-17 and 4-11 in the GSC.
The Flames will wrap up the home portion of the regular season and honor seniors Montgomery and Suedekum on Saturday evening. Lee will look to avenge an earlier season loss to Auburn Montgomery with tip off set for 7 p.m.