By James Vallone
ROME -- The Hawks took advantage of converting turnovers into points, while also winning the inside scoring battle to take the Gulf South Conference home game versus Union, 74-68.
Shorter would outshoot Union in the first half, 55 percent to 48 percent, to take the 38-36 lead that the intermission. Anthony Banks would lead the Hawks in scoring for the first half, by totaling 10 points – he would score a game-high 20 on the night. Anthony Freeman, for Union, scored 11 of his team-high 20 in the same opening half – Freeman entered the game averaging 14.5 points per game to lead the Bulldogs in scoring.
After a pair of Bulldog 3-pointers, the Hawks would be down 56-51 with 8:30 to play. Shorter would tie the game, 56-56 when Dedric Ware hit a 3-pointer. The Hawks would lead for the rest of the game, capped off by a Ware dunk for the last Hawks basket of the night with 11 seconds remaining.
"I am proud of our guys ability to make winning plays down the stretch," said coach Chad Warner. "In order for us to have a chance next Saturday (home against No. 9 Alabama-Huntsville) we will have to be much better. Union played very well and physical. We were fortunate to get the win."
Ware would score 18 points and hand out six assists, while Walter Hill would score 13.
Kenny Leverette and Hill would pull in seven rebounds apiece, just behind the nine that Banks would total for the game.
The Hawks would go 16-for-19 from the free throw line, with Banks going 6-for-6. A strong turnaround from the 2-for-6 performance from the line Banks had earlier this week in the road game at North Alabama.
Shorter would turn 14 Union turnovers into 23 points, while outscoring the Bulldogs 34-28 in the paint.
Other than Freeman, the only other player form Union to reach double digits in points was Pedro Faller who scored 11 off of the bench. The Hawks defense kept the other top scorers for the Bulldogs well below their season averages in points.
Shorter will have a week to prepare as Alabama-Huntsville will come to the Winthrop-King Centre next Saturday as the ninth-ranked team in Division II. UAH lost on January 12 to Delta State, 59-53, two days after Delta State came to Rome and lost to the Hawks, 63-53.