The Lee University men’s basketball team could not overcome a poor shooting night and dropped their second straight game falling to the University of Alabama-Huntsville 61-55 on Saturday afternoon. The Flames only shot 35% from the floor and were 25% from the three point arc in the game. It was the first time all season that Lee has dropped back-to-back games. The loss puts Lee at 12-5 in conference play and drops them to a tie for second place in the Gulf South Conference. They are tied for second place with UAH and are one game back of West Georgia and West Alabama who are tied for first place.
UAH opened the game with the early lead behind a Chaney Johnson layup and a free throw, Lee then answered and got a couple of early three points shots from Makhi McGuire and PJay Smith to take an early 10-5 lead.
The Flames continued with impressive defense forcing UAH on a five-minute scoring drought while going on a 11-0 run.
Jayce Willingham and Michael McGuirk each made layups and were fouled. They both converted the free throws and gave Lee the 22-10 lead with 10:30 left in the first half. After that point, both teams when cold with UAH going on a three-minute scoring drought and the Flames went on a five-minute scoring drought. Max Shulman hit a three and Jack Kostel each scoring to cut it to a 22-17 deficit. Beyuan Hendicks made a free throw to end the scoring drought with 5:10 left in the first half. McGuire hit another three-point shot to push the lead to 26-19 at the final media timeout of the first half. After that the Flames went cold from the floor and did not score the last 2:45 of the period. The Chargers added seven points and Lee went to the halftime break up 28-26.
Both teams scored an early couple of buckets before both went cold from the floor. The Chargers and Flames both were scoreless for two minutes before Willingham hit a couple of free throws. Cheney Johnson answered with a dunk and made the game 34-30 with 15:45 left in the game.
UAH dialed up the defensive pressure and went on an 11-0 run to take their first lead since it was 3-2. UAH pushed it out to 41-36 before Smith hit a three-point shot for the Flames. Both teams went cold again before Willingham hit back-to-back jumpers and tied it at 43-43 with eight minutes left in the game.
The two teams traded buckets before UAH hit a pair of free throws to give them their largest lead of the game at 53-47 with 3:55 left in the game. Hendricks and Smith hit two three’s in a row to tie the game at 53-53. But then Kostel made a layup to give UAH the lead 55-53. UAH made it a four point game before Smith made two free throws with 1:09 left in the contest. The Flames could not make any jump shots in the last minute and UAH made some free throws to win 61-55.
Head Coach Bubba Smith was disappointed in the loss. “We competed very hard today. Missed some 50-50 balls today. Credit to UAH they got us on the zone today. We missed a lot of open shots today and you can’t expect to beat UAH and do that. We didn’t create enough second chance shots and didn’t crash the boards well enough. They were double teaming Jayce and we didn’t adjust well enough. We were willing to compete and help each other but didn’t do it enough. We have a lot to work on and we will get it this week with just one game next week.”
UAH outrebounded Lee 41-28 in the win. Willingham led the Flames with 17 points, Smith added 14, and McGuire had 11 in the loss. Lee was 8-for-31 from long range in the contest.
The Flames will hit the road and will take on Auburn University Montgomery on Saturday, February 4 at 3 PM in Montgomery, Ala.