CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The 12th ranked Lee University Flames slipped by the Spring Hill College men's basketball team by a final score of 69-58 in a non-conference contest at the Paul Dana Walker Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair as the Badgers and Flames found themselves tied at 14 apiece with 9:16 to go in the period, but a 2-point jumper by junior guard Stephen Burches of Hammond, La., was followed by a steal and fast break basketball by freshman Brandon Blake of Oxford, Miss., to give SHC an 18-14 advantage at 8:31.
Lee then wrested the lead back to their favor two minutes later at 21-20 off a 3-point shot by Roy McFadgon.
A long 2-pointer by Blake at 4:38 gave SHC a 23-21 lead, but the Flames answered right back with five consecutive free throws to retake a 26-23 advantage at 3:40.
Senior forward Greg Gardner of Long Beach, Miss., would tie the game at 29 with a layup as the first half clock expired off an entry pass from junior point guard Tyler Schwab from Panama City, Fla.
Spring Hill came out of the locker rooms hungry and grabbed a 37-32 lead at 16:22 off a two-point jumper followed by a 3-point bucket by junior guard Steve Edwards from Newton, Miss.
At 8:03, a field goal by Larriques Cunningham gave the Flames their largest lead of the contest at 55-46 as Lee outscored Spring Hill 5-0 over a crucial two minute span.
The Badgers rallied to cut the deficit to 60-56 at 3:33 and then a steal and breakaway basket by freshman guard Charles Gordon of Birmingham, Ala., made the score just 60-58 with 2:41 remaining. A 4-point spurt by Lee rebuilt a 64-58 hill for the Badgers to climb in the final two minutes, but SHC was held scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Blake tallied 15 points for SHC and junior guard Kyle Watkins from Montgomery, Ala., scored 12 points for Spring Hill. Burches also contributed 10 points and eight rebounds for the Badgers.
Overall, the Badgers made 32.4% (22-68) of their shots including 6-of-11 (54.6%) from beyond the 3-point arc. Critically, Spring Hill was only 40% (8-of-20) from the charity stripe.
Jerel Blocker put 23 points in the basket for the Flames while Cunningham had 13 points and Matt Stilwell along with McFadgon added 12 points apiece for LU. McFadgon also pulled in 10 rebounds.
Lee (6-1) made 48% (24-50) of their shots from the floor and 5-of-16 (31.3%) from 3-point land.
Spring Hill (1-3) will break for the Thanksgiving holiday this week before traveling to Hattiesburg, Miss. on Saturday to face the University of Southern Mississippi (2-0) in an exhibition contest beginning at 7:30 p.m.