CARROLLTON, Ga. – Offense and defense were on full display on Monday night at The Coliseum, as the West Georgia men’s basketball team took down rival Shorter 87-56 in the 2018-19 Gulf South Conference home opener.
The win gives head coach Dave Moore a 5-3 record through the first eight games of the season and a 2-0 start to his career as a Gulf South Conference coach. Moore’s defense held Shorter to 18 second-half points on the back of 13 forced second-half turnovers. On the other end of the court, the Wolves turned those turnovers into 19 points in a 31-point victory.
Offensively, the Wolves were just as good, shooting 49.2 percent from the field and putting four players into double-figures, led by Marquill Smith. The senior guard continued his red-hot start to the season, recording his 10th-career UWG double-double with 26 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. Smith was 8-of-16 from the field including a 5-of-10 performance from three-point range.
Gerald Blount, who finished the first half with seven points, scored six right out of the gate, helping the Wolves open up an 11-1 lead just three minutes into the contest. Jared Simmons and Marquill Smith then began to heat up as each hit a pair of field goals from behind the arc. Simmons hit his treys back-to-back, giving UWG their largest lead of the half at 12 at the 15:15 mark of the half.
Shorter then slowly chipped away at the lead, and while they never gained the lead, the Hawks did cut it to one with 2:32 left in the opening period.
West Georgia’s Marquill Smith paced the West Georgia attack in the first half with 14 points, while also pulling down six rebounds which led the game at the break. Aren Ulmer connected on a pair of free throws late in the half to make it a six-point UWG lead at halftime.
In the second half, West Georgia poured it on their in-state rival, going on a 15-0 run to stretch the advantage out to 24 at 71-47 with just under seven minutes left in the game. West Georgia then cruised on to their third consecutive win, outscoring the Hawks 43-18 in the final 20 minutes.
The win improves West Georgia to 5-3 overall and 2-0 in Gulf South Conference play while Shorter falls to 2-4 and drops their first GSC game of the season. The Wolves had two double-doubles in the contest, as Blount added 19 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Simmons scored a career-high 17 points and Ulmer had another triple-threat night with 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Michael Zabetakis came off the bench and was scoreless in the game, but dished out five assists.
The Wolves are back in action on Thursday night, hosting Point in a 7:30 p.m. tip-off. Thursday’s game is also a part of UWG Athletics Holiday Toy Drive.