MOBILE, Ala. ----- Despite a furious second-half rally, the Auburn Montgomery men's basketball team could not overcome shooting just 17.2 percent in the opening half, as Spring Hill defeated the Warhawks 57-55 Thursday at the Arthur Outlaw Recreation Center.
Trailing by 20 points at the half, 32-12, the Warhawks (5-9, 4-4 SSAC) slipped behind further in the second half, as the Badgers (4-16, 3-6 SSAC) extended their lead to 27 points with 16:37 remaining. From that point, AUM outscored Spring Hill by a count of 40-15 and had an opportunity to tie the game in the final seconds. However, sophomore Quay Davis was bumped in the lane and his lay-up bounced off the iron and fell out of bounds with 1.5 seconds remaining. In the second half, the Warhawks outscored Spring Hill 43-25.
"From my perspective, the AUM team was two different teams tonight," head coach Larry Chapman said. "We started out very flat, but in the second half our preparation for the last three months and their willingness to accept coaching really was evident. Our defense in the second half seemed to deflate them. We could have quit, but they battled and scratched and clawed to get back into the game and have a chance to win the game. I just hate that didn't get a chance to decide this game in overtime."
Junior Chris Bell led the Warhawks by posting his first-career double-double. Bell finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, both of which were career bests. Davis added 16 points, while fellow sophomore Michael Willis chipped in 10 points, five assists and three steals.
"Chris (Bell) really played on the level we expect him tonight," Chapman said. "LaRel (Jackson) responded from having not played in a few games to really played well for us. I also thought that Quay (Davis) played an outstanding second half."
The key to the AUM rally was defense, as it limited the Badgers to just 5-of-16 shooting and forced seven turnovers. Bell and Davis keyed the rally, combining for 27 points, while Willis and junior LaRel Jackson added five critical points during the span.
For the game, the Warhawks rebounded to shoot 36.1 percent from the floor, as they converted 53.1 percent in the second half. After missing all eight of its attempts from distance in the opening half, AUM hit five 3-pointers in the second half.
Alex Looney led the Badgers with 21 points, while Fredrick Gatson finished with nine rebounds. Robert Gipson recorded eight points, nine rebounds and five assists.
The Warhawks will return to action on Saturday, when they host Belhaven at 4 p.m.