UWA men’s second half rally comes up short

Published 10:33 am Friday, February 1, 2013

LIVINGSTON – Dedric Ware scored 23 points and Shorter held off a furious late-game rally by West Alabama to escape Pruitt Hall with a 73-68 Gulf South Conference basketball victory over the Tigers Thursday.

The win improved the Hawks to 13-5 overall and 7-3 in GSC play. West Alabama dropped to 7-10 and 3-7.

Shorter led by as many as 13 points in the second half before the Tigers fought back to pull within one point at 68-67 on a pair of free throws by Sandy Underwood with 1:36 left to play. Shorter then made three of four free throws in the last 22 seconds to seal the win.

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“In the last three minutes we executed and made some key shots to get back in the game, but we just couldn’t make a play at the end,” UWA head coach Mike Newell said. “Shorter’s a good basketball team, but we fought back and I’m proud of our kids.

“Whenever Shorter needed a basket they made a big shot,” Newell said. “They are a senior oriented team that won’t panic. You have to give them credit.”

Steven Samuels scored a career-high 25 points for West Alabama, including making 4-of-6 three pointers in the second half. Underwood scored 14 second-half points to finish with 16. Jack Hill chipped in 13 for the Tigers.

“Steven has been shooting the basketball very well and he plays with a lot of heart, not only on the offensive end, but on the defensive end as well,” Newell said. “He had a great game for us tonight.”

Walter Hill had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Shorter. Kenny Leverette added 11 points for the Hawks, while Brandon Pullman had nine points and 10 rebounds.

West Alabama continues its homestand on Saturday against 11th ranked Alabama-Huntsville (15-3, 8-2). Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. Shorter returns home to host West Georgia.