Quay Kennedy's game-tying 3-point attempt just rimmed out at the buzzer as the Lee men's basketball team fell just short in its Gulf South Conference opener against No. 18 Union, 60-57 on Thursday evening.
Following a timeout from Coach Bubba Smith, the Flames drew up an in-bound play as Jayce Willingham received a cross court pass and dished it off to Kennedy who pumped and then fired away with the ball bouncing off the rim as time expired.
Tylandrius Parks grabbed an offensive board, laid it back in and drew a foul with five seconds left to keep the Bulldogs (7-0, 1-0) undefeated on the season.
Parks hit the foul shot to complete the old-fashion 3-point play and finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, four coming on the offensive glass.
The two rivals battled back and forth throughout the night. No team held a lead greater than five points the entire game and there was 10 ties and 11 lead changes.
Jayce Willingham led the Flames with 18 points. The junior was 8 of 10 from the field as the Bulldogs had no answer when he powered inside off the dribble drive. Willingham beat the buzzer at the end of the first half to give the Flames a 30-28 advantage.
Kennedy had 11 points and six rebounds and is now sits at 999 career points. Beyuan Hendricks posted 10 points and Makhi McGuire chipped in nine.
"I was proud of how our guys competed tonight. For the first time this season I felt like we played like we're capable of playing and defended with a lot of energy, focus, and attention to detail," said Smith. "Sometimes these games come down to a handful of possessions and you have to figure out how to make winning plays on both sides of the ball in the last four minutes."
The Flames, who have started slowly this season shooting the basketball, shot 41.5 percent from the field and just 26 percent from beyond the arc. Lee's defense also made it a tough night offensively for Union as the it connected on 43.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the 3-point line.
Tyree Boykin followed Parks with 12 points for the home team while Boe Nguidjol added 10. Hunter Vick tallied six points and swatted away three Lee shots.
The Flames fall to 3-3 and 0-1 in the GSC. The weekend road trip wraps up on Saturday with a matinee against Christian Brothers. Opening tip is set for 4 p.m.
"But again, I'm proud of how we competed from start to end tonight. We made a lot of winning plays. If we compete like that from here on out we will be in great shape moving forward," concluded Smith.