UNA men, women fall in GSC Tournament

Laithe Massey tied a career-high with 24 points as 13th-ranked Arkansas Tech eliminated the North Alabama men's basketball team from the 2011 Gulf South Conference Tournament with an 84-61 opening-round victory over the Lions Friday afternoon at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss.

After taking a 49-31 lead at the break, Tech was able to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the second half to improve to 23-4 on the season. With the loss, UNA ends its season with a 13-16 mark.

Trailing by as many as 23 points, UNA made several runs to get as close as 12 in the second half. The Wonderboys, however, were able to answer each time. ATU held a 50-30 scoring edge in the paint and also used a 37-32 rebounding advantage to score 17 second-chance points.

Arkansas Tech also converted 22 UNA turnovers into 22 points. The Lions did force ATU into a season-high 24 turnovers, but could only convert the miscues into 18 points for the game.

UNA scored the first five points of the game before the Wonderboys responded with a 15-2 run late in the first half to take a 29-17 lead. The Lions cut the deficit to nine points on two different occasions before a pair of free throws by Massey at the 7:42 mark pushed the lead back to double figures for good.

Beaumont Beasley led North Alabama with 18 points while Marcus Landry turned in his eighth double-double on the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Lions. Warrick Mastin rounded out the top scorers for UNA with 10 points on the day.

On the women's side North Alabama's 13-game winning streak came to a crashing halt Thursday in the opening round of the 2011 Gulf South Conference Tournament. Bailey St. Clair scored 29 points as Harding posted a 67-58 win at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss.

After trailing 34-30 at the half, Harding rallied for the nine-point win to improve to 18-9 on the season. With the loss, UNA falls to 21-6 and must wait to find out if it is selected for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Harding, who last defeated North Alabama with a 65-59 road win over the Lions on Jan. 4, shot 41 percent from the floor and also made 25-of-32 free throws. The loss represents the fifth straight year UNA has exited the GSC tournament in the first round.

On Thursday, the Lions had a hard time making baskets. UNA shot 37.5 percent from the floor and made only 24 percent of its three-point attempts after going 8-of-33 from long range. Sanqueeta Meardith led the Lions with 15 points on the evening. Niala Harris added 12 points for UNA while Dana Jackson tossed in 10 points.