HOMEWOOD, Ala. – The University of Alabama in Huntsville men's basketball opened up the 2013 Raymond James Gulf South Conference Men's Basketball Championships with an 81-68 victory over West Georgia on Thursday night at the Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University. The No. 1 seed Chargers improve to 23-4, while eighth-seeded West Georgia ends the season at 9-18.
UAH will next take on the winner of the Delta State and North Alabama contest. Those two teams will square off at the Hanna Center on Friday at 5:30 p.m. with the semifinal game taking place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Wayne Dedrick scored a season-best 26 points in the victory to go along with a team-best six rebounds, while Jaime Smith was strong with 22 points and eight helpers. Zane Campbell was also strong as he went 5-for-6 from the field, collected five rebounds and dished out four assists in scoring 10 on the evening.
The contest was played in front of a large UAH crowd that made the short trek down from the Rocket City, and Head Coach Lennie Acuff appreciated the show of support.
"I thought that the crowd we had really was a big factor in that basketball game," Acuff said following the contest. "I hope we have that kind of crowd Saturday night. It gives us a big advantage and gives a lot of energy into the building."
After building up a 38-26 advantage at the halftime break, the Chargers started the second half on fire as the team went on a 17-6 run in the first 4:15 of the second half. During the strong stretch for the four-time regular season champions, Dedrick scored six of his points while Smith had five including the 3-pointer that capped off the run.
"Two really talented kids obviously," Acuff said of Smith and Dedrick. "Jaime has had an amazing year. He deserved Player of the Year, and you can see in practice every day Wayne is getting closer and closer. Being away from the sport for five years is tough, but I think he showed a lot of people tonight he's pretty close to being back."
The spurt allowed UAH to build up a 23-point lead at 55-32, and that would be the largest margin the Chargers would enjoy in the contest as the Wolves immediately answered with an 11-0 run that quickly cut the deficit to 55-43 at the 11:42 mark.
Quincy Hill helped spark the UWG push, and he finished the night with a game-best 27 points.
A Smith triple would end the string of West Georgia points, and the Chargers would maintain the double-digit lead through the rest of the contest.
UAH hit 13 3-pointers on the night to end the game just one off of the season high of 14 treys as Dedrick buried five for the second consecutive game while Smith knocked down four long-range shots.
For the contest, the Chargers shot at a 48.3 percent clip while West Georgia connected on 44.8 percent of its attempts.
In total, eight Chargers scored on the night as Acuff was able to use his entire roster. Among those who tallied points was Andrew Donovan who hit a pair of critical 3-pointers in the first half of the game.
UAH's appearance in the semifinals will mark the sixth in the program's history.