Lee Men Hold On For 60-59 Win Over West Georgia

Saturday, January 9, 2021
Quay Kennedy hit his final free throw with 1.3 seconds remaining and the Lee University Flames held on for a 60-59 win Saturday afternoon from The Coliseum on the campus of West Georgia.

After a back-and-forth first half, the Flames trailed by as many as six with 18:28 to go in the game before a Kennedy basket gave Lee their first lead of the half. The teams traded baskets before the Flames stretched their lead to five with 3:49 left on a pair of Kennedy free-throws.

West Georgia (1-5) then evened things at 59 with a Keshawn Heard 3-pointer as 25 seconds remained.
Lee held on for the last shot before a Wolves foul with 1.3 ticks were on the clock. Kennedy missed the first shot from the charity stripe and West Georgia called a timeout to ice him. The next free-throw found the bottom of the net and the half court heave was not enough as Lee improved to 2-1 on the season.

“I’m not sure if we deserved to win today, but we found a way,” said Lee head coach Bubba Smith. “I’m proud of our guys for sticking together when a game like this could cause a team to make excuses and give in. We were really struggling to find ourselves offensively in a number of stretches throughout the game. Give West Georgia credit, their pressure forced us into a lot of rushed possessions in the first half.  I thought we settled in the second half and did a much better job of taking care of the ball.”

Kennedy finished the game with 14 points, while going 5-for-6 from the charity stripe, to go with six rebounds. Noah Boler chipped in with 14 points of his own and five boards. Jayce Willingham finished a perfect 7-for-7 on his way to 11 points and five rebounds. Michael McGuirk matched Kennedy’s six boards and added six points of his own.

Michael Zabetakis led all players with 17 points and Kadeim Jones threw in 15 more. J.J. Barnes rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10. Zabetakis brought down a game-high eight rebounds and Barnes pulled down seven. 

West Georgia shot 33.9 percent (20-for-59) overall and were 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) from 3-point range. The Wolves went 14-for-18 (77.8 percent) from the free-throw line.

The Flames took advantage of their chances at the charity stripe going 20-for-23 (87 percent) from the line. Lee shot 36.7 percent (18-for-49) from the floor and 22.2 percent (4-for-18) from beyond the arc. 

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy,” added Smith. “Until you play a back-to-back series it’s hard to know what to expect. We will learn a lot from this and what that second game feels like, how to minimize our mistakes and keep fighting and stick together, even when it’s not great and shots aren’t falling. Road wins are not easy. Happy for our guys and happy to be playing.”

The Flames are back in action next weekend with another GSC weekend series. Lee will travel to Valdosta, Georgia, to challenge the Blazers at 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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