By James Vallone
ROME -- Shorter had a look at a 3-pointer as time expired, but the shot rounded the rim and fell out to give the victory to West Florida, 75-73 from the Winthrop-King Centre.
Shorter (14-5, 8-3 GSC) opened up a ten point first half lead when Walter Hill would connect on a 3-pointer to make the score 17-7 midway through the half. Devance Harris would score 12 of his share of the team-high 14 before the intermission to enter halftime tied with West Florida (9-10, 4-7 GSC), 34-34.
Terrance Beasley was responsible for keeping the Argos in the game, scoring 15 first half points, part of a night where he would lead all scorers in the game with 24. Beasley was the second leading scorer for the Argos entering the game with an average of 14.8.
When the second half started, West Florida was able to use a 13-5 run to put an eight point margin on the Hawks.
With 4:03 left in the game, the lead was stretched to nine points. Fueled by six points from Brandon Pullman and four points from Kenny Leverette, the Hawks would be down by three with less than 30 seconds to play.
With the score 73-70, Dedric Ware would find Hill for a 3-pointer that would tie the game with 23 seconds remaining.
Nate Johnson would connect on a pair of free throws to put the Argos ahead by two. The inbound pass would find Marquise King as he got off a shot just after crossing half court that would circle the rim before falling no good as time expired.
"I really hurt for our team after that one. I felt like we put ourselves in a position to win the game but didn't quite finish it off," said coach Chad Warner.
Four Hawks would score in double digits, Hill (14), Harris (14), Ware (13), and Pullman (12). For Harris, the point total would establish a new career high for the senior. Pullman, Harris, and Hill would all pull in six rebounds to lead the Hawks; while Pullman would record three steals for a game-high.
Ware would hand out 10 assists, the third time this season he has reached double digits in assists.
Shorter would shoot 42 percent from the field, compared to 53 percent for West Florida. West Florida would also connect on 73 percent of their free throws, 22-for-30, to help in the victory.
The Argos would get 21 points from Ellis Young, the leading scorer on the season, along with a double-double from Johnson – 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Beasley shot 3-for-4 from behind the arc to help score his 24 points, while also being second on the team with nine rebounds.
West Florida would commit 24 turnovers that the Hawks would convert into 30 points. The Hawks also took advantage of scoring from the bench, 11-5.
"We will work hard to prepare ourselves to play a very talented Valdosta team Saturday," said Warner. "We will need a big crowd to help get us over the top!"
The Hawks remain at home this weekend, as Valdosta State visits the Winthrop-King Centre on Saturday. The Hawks defeated the Blazers on the road in early January, 75-69, behind 28 points from Hill and 18 from Ware.