– Courtesy of West Georgia athletics
At nearly every point when it looked as if the West Georgia Wolves would pull away from Auburn Montgomery Tuesday, the Warhawks would hit a few shots and make it a game again.
That was the way it was for the entire night, but a huge baseline runner from Paul Turner with 38 seconds remaining was the final lead change in the Wolves' 103-100 Gulf South Conference victory.
Turner was the ringleader of a trio of terror for the AUM defense at The UWG Coliseum as he, William Sides and Marquill Smith combined for 80 of the Wolves' 103 points in the contest. The junior scored 32 points to lead the way, including four of the final seven points of the game for West Georgia. It was the second time this season that Turner has scored at least 30 points in a game for the Wolves.
The first half was a track meet as the two teams combined for 54 points in the first 10 minutes of the contest, but at that point, neither team had the upper hand as the score was 27-27. The Wolves and Warhawks went back and forth throughout the half, as the game was tied nine times and the lead changed hands 10 times.
With the game tied at 48 in the final minute of the opening period, freshman Glenn Robinson buried a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Wolves a 3-point lead. Twenty-four seconds later, Turner hit a driving layup in transition, giving West Georgia a 53-48 cushion heading into the locker room at the break.
The back-and-forth nature of the contest continued over the first 10 minutes of the second half, as the Wolves pushed their advantage out to 8 points twice in that span. Each time, the Warhawks would cut the lead back to a manageable amount. Then, after another push from the Wolves, Smith gave West Georgia an 83-70 lead with a pair of free-throws with 7:45 left in the game.
That would be the largest lead of the contest, and it would only go back to double digits one more time over the final five minutes of the contest, setting up the thrilling conclusion. After Turner's runner, AUM missed a 3-pointer and Karlos Odum ripped the rebound, then buried two free-throws to finish out the scoring on the night.
In addition to Turner's game-leading 32, Smith added 25 and Sides had 23. Those three and junior point guard Aren Ulmer each had 3 assists to tie for the team lead. Odum added 9 points and 8 rebounds as well.
West Georgia moves to 7-7 on the year and 2-5 in Gulf South Conference play, while AUM drops to 6-8 overall and 2-8 in Gulf South Conference play. The Wolves remain at home on Saturday for a doubleheader with North Alabama. The Gulf South Conference battle will begin for the women at 2 p.m., with the men scheduled for 4 p.m.
West Georgia 72, Auburn-Montgomery 44 (women):
For the first time this season, four Wolves scored in double figures as the West Georgia Wolves women’s basketball team throttled visiting Auburn-Montgomery 72-44 in Gulf South Conference action Tuesday at the UWG Coliseum.
Junior guard Aysha Harris led the offense with 12 points for the Wolves, while Kayla Carter and D’Asia Cain each added 11 and Jessica Brown finished with 12.
As a team, the Wolves played one of their best games of the season on both sides of the ball as West Georgia shot 45.2 percent from the field including 6 of 12 from 3-point range and forced 24 turnovers from AUM that led to 26 points on the other end.
Early in the contest, Harris made a layup, reaching a milestone for the Memphis, Tenn. native as she scored her 600th career point.
The teams traded baskets for the majority of the first quarter, with UWG holding a 16-12 advantage after the first 10 minutes of play. The defensive intensity remained for head coach Scott Groninger and the Wolves, as they forced 13 first-half turnovers and as a result scored 17 points off turnovers in the first half.
At the 1:32 mark of the second quarter, the Wolves reached their largest lead of the opening half, going up by 15, a lead they would take into the halftime break at 39-24.
West Georgia never let up as they outscored Auburn Montgomery 20-7 in the third quarter and led by as much as 30 in the second half. Groninger played his bench much of the second half, resulting in 30 of the Wolves’ points.
Along with the contingency of double-figure scorers, A’Kia Harris scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds. Kilah Nixon added eight points for the Wolves. In total, nine Wolves scored on the night.
Aysha Harris led with 5 assists, and continued her stellar defense with 5 steals.
The win moved the Wolves to 9-5 overall and improved West Georgia to 5-2 in Gulf South Conference play. Additionally, it put the Wolves back in the win column, snapping a three-game skid. Auburn Montgomery fell to 6-8 on the year with a 2-5 mark in GSC play.
West Georgia returns to action on Saturday, hosting North Alabama in a pivotal GSC matchup at The Coliseum. Tip-time is set for 2 p.m. from Carrollton.