By James Vallone
FLORENCE, Ala. -Shorter picked up the Gulf South Conference victory, 80-73 over North Alabama despite giving up 13 3-pointers in the game.
North Alabama connected for nine first half 3-pointers, but lead by only five points at the intermission thanks to the Hawks shooting 39 percent from the floor. Dedric Ware kept the game close at the break by scoring 12 of his game-high 21 before the break including going 2-for-4 from behind the arc.
The second half saw the Hawks (11-4, 5-2 GSC) take advantage of Lion turnovers and accurate shooting to run up the score late – including a few dunks from Anthony Banks on the fast break to put the exclamation point on the victory.
Shorter fell behind by nine points at the start of the game, before fighting back to grab the first lead of the game at 8:47 when Ware connected on his second shot from the free throw line to make the score 18-17. UNA (11-3, 4-2 GSC) would take advantage over the final 5:21 of the opening half thanks to a 12-8 run to take the lead at the break.
The Hawks would trail for the first 5:25 of the second half until Walter Hill gave the Hawks the lead, 45-44, off of the layup. The next ten minutes would be played close with no team able to lead by more than six points.
Ware put the Hawks ahead for good with his second free throw at 5:13 remaining to play, 60-59. Shorter would capitalize on a 20-14 run to end that game.
Despite being outshot from behind the arc Shorter would shoot better from the field, 44 percent to 34 percent; the Hawks also would go 14-for-21 (67 percent) from the free throw line. The Hawks were able to convert 14 Lion turnovers into 19 points, while taking the advantage in points in the paint and on the fast break.
Banks and Kenny Leverette would each score 18 points. Leverette would add nine rebounds and three assists while Banks would add seven rebounds and two assists.
Hill would score nine points, and was able to lead the team with 10 rebounds.
Devance Harris and Marquise King each would score six points off of the bench, while King would add five rebounds and three assists while playing 28 minutes for his most extensive time on the court this season.
The 21 points for Ware represents a new single-game high for the Gainesville, Ga. sophomore.
Wes Long connected four times on 3-point shots on his way to scoring 16 points for North Alabama, while Rashaun Claiborne would score 15 for the Lions. Jere Vucica pulled in 11 rebounds for the game-high, the first time the Croatian has reached double digits in rebounds this season. Bruce Adams (eight points) and DeAndre Hersey (nine points) entered the game averaging 13 points apiece and were held below their season averages.
The Hawks will host Union in GSC action on Saturday from the Winthrop-King Centre at 4 pm. Union has lost three in a row, including tonight to No. 9 Alabama-Huntsville, 78-62.