CARROLLTON, Ga. - Saturday afternoon at The Coliseum had a playoff-level feel to it, as two teams tied in the Gulf South Conference standings went toe-to-toe. In the end, the West Georgia Wolves rose to the occasion, taking down the Lee Flames with a 77-74 victory. The win is the fifth-straight for the Wolves.
Both teams were already in the Gulf South Conference tournament, making the final two games of the year about seeding, with the Wolves, Flames, and Delta State Statesmen entering the day in a three-way tie in the conference standings. Delta State also won on the day, putting the Wolves and Statesmen now in a tie for fifth place in the Gulf South Conference standings.
Neither team came out of the gate fast, as the two teams scored a combined 26 points in the first 10 minutes of the contest, with the score tied at 13-13. The Wolves quickly went on a 5-0 run to take the biggest lead of the game at 18-13. Lee fought back, and with 5:43 left in the first half, UWG held on to a slim 24-23 advantage.
Senior Marquill Smith took over at that point, scoring nine points over the final five minutes of the first half to help West Georgia build an 11-point halftime lead. The big shot came at the buzzer, as Laperion Perry banked in a three-pointer as time expired to give the Wolves a 39-28 advantage heading into the locker room at the break. Smith led all scorers with 14 points in the first half as West Georgia shot 49 percent from the field in the period.
Following a layup from Gerald Blount to open the second half, the Wolves went cold, as the Flames went on a 16-6 run over the first five minutes of the period, cutting West Georgia's lead to 45-44 with 15:01 left in the game. The two teams went back-and-forth over the next eight minutes until Lee guard Cody Jones buried three from long range in the span of two minutes and the Wolves found themselves trailing 69-61 with 5:53 left in the game.
The Wolves clawed their way back into the game over the next five minutes, but it wasn't until Smith buried a pair of
Smith led the Wolves with 27 points and seven rebounds in the game, followed by Michael Zabetakis and Willie Barnes with 13 points each. Barnes' points closed out a huge weekend for the UWG big man, as he had 36 points and 15 rebounds in the Wolves' two victories this weekend. The Wolves moves to 17-10 on the year and 12-7 in Gulf South Conference play while Lee falls to 14-13 overall and 11-8 against league competition.
West Georgia will close out the regular season at home next Thursday, taking on the Alabama Huntsville Chargers with more seeding on the line. Tip for that contest is set for 7:30 p.m. at The Coliseum.
UWG and DSU exit the weekend tied for fifth, one game behind fourth-place Christian Brothers, who lost to Alabama Huntsville on Saturday afternoon. If CBU and Delta State lose next Thursday and West Georgia wins, then the Wolves would host on Super Tuesday (March 5) as the fourth seed in the 2019 GSC Tournament. If all three teams win next week, or if there is a three-way tie, then West Georgia would be the sixth seed in the tournament.