MARIETTA, Ga. – The Spring Hill College men's basketball team suffered a tough 78-71 conference loss at the hands of the 13th-ranked Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) Runnin' Hornets at the Hornets Nest on Friday evening.
SPSU (11-2, 5-0 SSAC) took a 23-14 lead halfway through the first period and held a 44-34 advantage at the intermission.
A 10-1 run by Spring Hill opened the second half as the Badgers rallied to cut the deficit down to 45-44 with 17½ minutes to play.
SHC sophomore forward Alex Looney from Mobile's Murphy High School then knotted the game at 48 with a short jumper in the paint at 15:28, but a 6-point run by SPSU made it 58-52 in favor of the home team with 12 minutes showing on the clock.
With six minutes to play, Spring Hill trailed 67-62 until Looney converted on two free throws to make it a 67-64 SPSU lead at the 4:04 mark.
Bobby Smith, however, put the Hornets back up by six with a 3-point shot from the right side at 2:45 as SPSU held on for the 78-71 win.
Freshman center Jake Thelen of Edgewood, Ky., tallied a double-double for the Badgers with 18 points and 15 rebounds while junior guard Brett Williams added 15 points and freshman forward Frederick Gatson of Riverdale, Ga., notched 11 points.
Smith's 15 points led a balanced scoring attack by SPSU as five Hornets reached double digits.
Spring Hill shot 51.9% (28-54) from the floor including 31.3% (5-16) from 3-point range and also out-rebounded the Hornets 40-32, but the deciding factor in the game would be the SPSU defense as the Badgers gave the ball away 24 times against 17 Hornet steals.
The Hornets shot 42.2% (27-64) from the field and 25% (6-24) from behind the arc and suffered just 13 turnovers against six steals by the Badgers.
SHC (8-4, 3-2 SSAC) next visits the Barons of Brewton-Parker College (5-8, 3-1 SSAC) in Mt. Vernon, Ga., on Saturday for a conference game beginning at 4 p.m.