It was a tale of two completely different halves on Thursday night as the Spring Hill College men's basketball team outlasted Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) West Division opponent Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) by a score of 57-55 at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.
SHC dominated the first 20 minutes of play against the Warhawks (5-9, 4-4 SSAC West) and took a 32-12 lead into the halftime locker rooms. AUM shot just 17.2% for the half and made none of their eight 3-point attempts while Spring Hill drained 44.8% (13-29) of its shots from the field and knocked down four 3-point buckets.
The 2nd half appeared to be a replay of the 1st period with Spring Hill cruising to a 27-point cushion at 42-15, but then the tide turned and the Badger offense struggled to score just 15 points over the game's final 16 minutes and AUM erupted in a 40-point outburst.
With 1:35 on the clock, AUM cut it to a single-digit Badger lead off a jumper by
Michael Willis. Quay Davis then drained a 3-point bucket at 1:22 following a half-court steal by Willis. LaRel Jackson then intercepted a Badger pass and dropped in a fast break layup at 1:08 to make it 57-53 as the Spring Hill faithful in attendance suddenly went uncomfortably quiet after 39 minutes of being assured a happy outcome.
Spring Hill missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity at 1:02 and the Warhawks took advantage of the miscue with a Davis jumper on the other end that sliced the score down to 57-55 with 48 seconds remaining.
The Badgers ran the clock down to 18 seconds but could not convert on a 3-point attempt that was rebounded by Tristen Harrell of AUM. Davis' tying attempt with 2 seconds remaining was off the iron and landed out of bounds with 1.5 seconds showing. The Badger in-bounds attempt was slapped away, but the play took just enough time to run out the clock and secure the SHC win.
Junior forward Alex Looney of Mobile scored a game-high 21 points for Spring Hill as the Badgers shot 43.1% (22-51) overall from the field and were successful on 27.3% (6-22) of their 3-point attempts. SHC suffered 16 turnovers against eight steals by AUM, all of which came in the 2nd half.
Chris Bell of AUM had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the visitors while Davis added 16 points and Willis contributed 10 points to the Warhawk cause. AUM finished the game shooting 53.1% (17-32) in the 2nd half for a total of 36.1% (22-61) overall and 27.3% (5-22) from 3-point land. The Warhawks had 16 turnovers against 10 Badger steals. AUM also won the rebounding battle 41-36 after trailing 23-19 at the intermission.
Spring Hill (4-16, 3-6 SSAC West) will visit The Den in New Orleans, La., on Saturday to play long-time rival the Loyola University (La.) Wolf Pack (10-8, 4-4 SSAC West) at 4 p.m.