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FLORENCE – Marquel Darrington scored 24 points, including a pair of free throws with 5.9 seconds remaining to lift the University of North Alabama men's basketball team to an 82-80 win at West Florida Thursday evening.
The career-high by the junior from Montgomery gives the Lions a 15-3 record and keeps the team tied for first place in the Gulf South Conference at 8-2 in the league standings.
West Florida (8-10 overall, 3-7 GSC) was poised for the upset after rallying from a 34-32 deficit at the half. In a game that featured 15 ties and 13 lead changes, the Argonauts took their last lead on a dunk by Terrence Beasley with 1:39 remaining.
Facing a 78-76 deficit, Darrington scored the last six points for the Lions. After a layup on the ensuing possession tied the game, UNA forced a turnover and got another jumper from Darrington to grab an 80-78 lead in the final minute of play.
After UWF answered with a jumper in the lane with 31 seconds remaining, the Lions called timeout to set up the final sequence. Darrington took the inbounds pass and circled around the top of the key before driving the right side of the lane and drawing the foul. He hit both foul shots to finish the game 7-for-7 at the free throw line.
The Argonauts had one last chance but Beasley's desperation three-pointer as time expired was off the mark.
DeAndre Hersey added 12 points and seven rebounds for North Alabama while Nathan Spehr was 3-for-3 from three-point range and added a pair of free throws to finish with 11 points on the night. Rashaun Claiborne rounded out the top scorers for the Lions with 10 points.
UNA will continue its GSC road trip Saturday at Valdosta State. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. EST at The Complex on the VSU campus.