MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- Lee's Chase Dunn scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half to blow open a close game and send the Auburn University at Montgomery men's basketball team to an 87-67 loss Friday at the AUM Gymnasium.
The Warhawks (1-3, 0-1 SSAC) rallied to tie the score at 40 apiece with on a pair of free throws by senior Michael Acoff with 18:07 remaining in the game, but Dunn scored the next five points for the No. 15 Flames (6-0, 1-0 SSAC) to give them the lead for good. Dunn knocked down five 3-pointers in the contest and dished out six assists. In the decisive second half, Lee hit nearly 65 percent of its shots from the floor.
"I thought we did some good things tonight, but in the second half we just fell apart," head coach Larry Chapman said. "We have a lot of games remaining to play, so I am encouraged that we continue to improve. Chase Dunn just really took the game over for a stretch in the second half and we could never recover. We have to find ways for our guys to recover quicker in defensive transition, but that is a process. We have a team that has not played together very long, as well as some young players who are playing a lot of minutes. But don't take anything away from Lee tonight. They are a very good team and are deserving of their ranking. We just have to keep working to get better."
Sophomore Michael Willis paced the Warhawks with a career-high 17 points. Junior Reshad Bickham contributed 15 points and six offensive rebounds off the bench. Acoff finished with 12 points, while junior LaRel Jackson added 10. Willis matched Bickham with a team-high six rebounds in 35 minutes of play.
"I told our team in the locker room that we have decided how we are going to go forward," Chapman added. "Michael Willis did some really nice things for us on the wing and showed a lot of toughness. We needed to see that out of him and I was proud of the way he played today."
AUM raced out of the gates, scoring the first six points of the contest and establishing a 19-7 lead following a three-point play by Bickham at the 11:04 mark of the first half.
However, Lee stormed back quickly, scoring the next 13 points, capped by a jumper by Will Barnes to take a 20-19 lead with eight minutes remaining in the half.
Down the stretch of the final eight minutes, the Flames extended their lead to as many as six points, but a tip-in by junior Dominique Ellis with 1:00 remaining pulled the Warhawks to within one. At the half, AUM trailed 35-34.
Dunn pushed the lead to four, 40-36, with a trey at the 18:53 mark, but Acoff answered with four straight points to pull the Warhawks even.
AUM stayed close for the next two minutes, trailing by only two, 47-45, following a Willis jumper with 16:09 left to play. Lee pulled away with a 15-1 run during the next four minutes to put the game out of reach. The Flames built as much as a 27-point lead with 2:47 remaining, but the Warhawks battled until the final buzzer and closed the game with a 10-3 spurt to provide the final margin.
Barnes led all players with 21 points, while Corey Billingsley chipped in 15 points off the bench for Lee.
For the Warhawks, sophomore Quay Davis added five assists, while junior Brett Person tallied a pair of blocks.
AUM converted 38.3 percent of its shots from the field, while Lee shot a blistering 53.8 percent, including 22-of-34 (64.7 percent) in the second half.
The Warhawks will return to action Saturday, when they host Southern Wesleyan at 3 p.m.