UWA men’s basketball gets home victory

Published 8:52 am Monday, December 31, 2012

LIVINGSTON – Sandy Underwood scored 27 points and Steven Samuels 25 to lead West Alabama to a 93-80 college basketball victory over William Carey Saturday at Pruitt Hall Gymnasium.

The Tigers broke a three-game losing skid and improved to 4-5 with the win. William Carey, ranked 10th in the NAIA Coaches Poll, dropped to 11-2.

UWA built a 26 point lead in the first half, beating the Crusaders’ press to make 20-of-32 (20-32) from the floor, including 7-of-8 (87.5%) from behind the three-point line. With three Tigers already in double figures before the break, West Alabama led 56-38 at the half.

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“We played the first 16 minutes as well as any team I have had in a long time,” UWA head coach Mike Newell said. “When we attacked the way they were playing us defensively and made shots the outcome is going to turn out well. We attacked it the way we practiced it.

“We are 4-5 now with the most important 16 games of the season left,” Newell said. “All of our losses have been to teams well over .500. There haven’t been any sisters of the poor on our schedule.”

The Crusaders went on a 9-3 run to open the second half, cutting the UWA advantage to 61-47 with just over 16 minutes left. William Carey cut the lead to 12 by the 14:30 mark and to seven, 76-69, with 7:22 left in the game. It was as close as they would come.

“In the first half we were clicking on cylinders, but in the second half it was a little slower,” Underwood said. “We were moving the ball and my teammates did a great job of helping me get the ball in rhythm.”

The 93 points is the highest total for the Tigers this season, coming against a William Carey squad that was allowing just 71 points per game. UWA shot 51-percent (30-58) from the floor and outrebounded the Crusaders 38-29.

“I spent a lot of time in the gym over the break and shot with confidence,” Samuels said. “This is a big win for us to snap the losing streak, but we have to keep moving forward because there are areas where we can improve.”

The two teams combined for 57 turnovers, with William Carey losing the ball 29 times and UWA 28.

“This team can score some points. Just think how many we would have scored without the 28 turnovers,” Newell said. “Look, a win’s a win. We don’t care how many we score.”

Underwood added 11 rebounds to his 27 points, while Desmond Raymond chipped in 18 points and a team-high five assists for West Alabama, who gets back into Gulf South Conference play Jan. 5 when West Georgia comes to Pruitt Hall.