CARROLLTON, Ga. – A huge second-half surge nearly paid off for the West Georgia Wolves in Pensacola, Fla. on Friday evening, as the Wolves fell just short against 10th-ranked West Florida, falling 88-86 to the homestanding Argos.
Junior Marquill Smith has had a strong week on the court, picking up his second-straight double-double and his sixth of the year with 27 points and 13 rebounds. That follows a 33-point, 14-rebound effort on Monday against Alabama Huntsville. The Florida native was comfortable in his home state Friday, hitting 3-of-6 from three-point range and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line.
The first eight minutes of the contest between the Wolves and 10th-ranked West Florida were tough sledding for West Georgia. The Wolves did not score in the first five minutes of the contest, with Aren Ulmer scoring on a layup for the first UWG bucket of the game with just over 15 minutes left in the first half. Ulmer was the bulk of the scoring for the Wolves in the first eight minutes, as the junior from Upland, Ca. had six of the first eight points of the game for UWG.
Freshman Greg James added the first three-pointer of the contest and West Georgia trailed 20-11 at the under-12:00 timeout with 11:50 left in the first half. The UWG offense picked up with Greg James and Marquill Smith combining for 21 points in the first half, as the Wolves’ offense surged, cutting the UWF to 36-31 with just over four minutes remaining in the opening period.
West Florida out-raced the Wolves to the break, taking a 48-48 lead into the locker room at halftime. James led the Wolves at the break, going 6-for-6 from the field en route to a 14-point, first half outburst. The freshman was 2-for-2 from three-point range in the period.
West Florida scored the first five points of the second half, opening up a 15-point lead in the first two minutes of the period. The Wolves began to whittle away at the UWF lead at that point, cutting the advantage to six points at 66-60 with 12:16.
The Argos responded by pushing the lead back out to nine several times over the next 10 minutes of the contest, but with 2:27 left in the game, a three-pointer from Smith cut the lead to five for the first time since early in the game.
West Georgia’s defense allowed the Wolves to cut the advantage again to just one point at 86-85 with 10 seconds left in the contest. UWF hit their free-throws, then fouled William Sides with one second left in the game to avoid a potential game-tying three-pointer.
In addition to Smith’s double-double, Paul Turner added a big second half effort to score 19 in the contest, while Greg James was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field for 16 points in the loss. James has now connected on 12-straight from the field and has hit 14 of his last 16 shots.
West Georgia continues the southern loop through the Gulf South Conference on Sunday afternoon, taking on the Valdosta State Blazers from The Complex in Valdosta, Ga. at 4 p.m.