The 11th-ranked University of Alabama in
Huntsville men's basketball team survived Saturday at West Alabama, taking home
a 57-54 victory to move to 16-3 (9-2 Gulf South Conference) on the season. UWA
slips to 7-11 (3-8 GSC).
With the game tied at 54-54 and UAH holding possession of the basketball, the Tigers fouled Jaime Smith to send the GSC's leader in free throw percentage to the charity stripe. He missed the front end but was true on the second, and then Smith swiped the ball away from DeMarco Spears and was subsequently fouled once more.
Icing the contest, the senior from Birmingham hit the pair of freebies to produce the 57-54 final.
Smith would finish the night with 18 points, while Wayne Dedrick also notched double figures with 16 as he grabbed a team-best six rebounds.
The win marks the 299th for Lennie Acuff while on the UAH sideline.
The Chargers struggled to get shots to fall throughout the contest, but the visitors played tough defense and were able to lead by double digits through much of the first 20 minutes after opening up a 21-9 lead just over nine minutes into the contest before taking a 29-17 score into the halftime break.
After a Ronnie Mack layup fell at the 17:12 mark of the second stanza, the Chargers were up 34-19 and enjoying the largest lead it would hold on the night, but West Alabama would close the gap to just four at 39-35 with 11 minutes left in the game.
UAH would push the lead back out to 47-41 with 5:34 on the clock, but a pair of UWA dunks cut the lead to just two at 47-45 with five minutes remaining. After a UAH timeout, Greg Gardner found Andrew Donovan in the corner, and he buried the trey to keep the Tigers at bay – at least temporarily.
With the Chargers clinging to a 52-50 lead and the clock rolling under two minutes, Steven Samuels knocked down a triple to put UWA on top 53-52, but Smith would hit another pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to put the Chargers back in front.
Samuels would go 1-for-2 at the charity stripe on West Alabama's next possession to make it 54-54 and setup the dramatic finish.
The Chargers finished the game shooting 32.7 percent, while UWA – who was paced by Samuels who scored 17 – registered a 34.0 percent mark from the field. West Alabama outrebounded UAH 46-34.
UAH will now return home to Spragins Hall where it will face Valdosta State on Thursday.