Byrd posts career high in UWA win over Lee

Published 9:27 am Friday, January 17, 2014

West Alabama had five players score double-figures for the second straight game led by Jarell Byrd, who posted a career high of 21 points, to defeat Lee 85-74 in Gulf South Conference basketball action Thursday at Pruitt Hall.

The win put the Tigers on a four game win streak, its longest since the 2004-05 season, and improves UWA to 9-5 overall and 6-2 in the GSC, ranked second. Lee dropped to 6-7 and 2-5.

West Alabama never trailed in the game, jumping to a 36-32 lead at halftime. The Tigers improved from shooting 48.5 percent in the first half to 61.3 percent in the second half to secure the final victory. UWA allowed only eight turnovers, its lowest of the season.

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“We had a chance to put them away tonight, but we missed to many plays,” UWA head coach Mark Downey said.

“Give Lee credit though, they did a great job guarding us tonight. We just cannot continue to give up 52 percent from the field especially when we go on the road. We also must do a better job of guarding the ball. We shot it better in the second half but, overall, it wasn’t a great shooting night for us.”

Byrd finished 8-of-13 from the field, 4-of-5 from the 3-point arc, and matched Lleon Tillman’s eight boards to lead in rebounding.

“Jarell was really good for us in different ways,” said Downey.

“He just put up a highlight reel in the first half, and when I recruited him, I didn’t know he could do some of that. He is special, and he keeps improving. One of the greatest things about him, as well as Lleon, is that we will get to see them again next year.”

Sandy Underwood trailed Byrd with 20 points. Tillman totaled 16, Desmond Raymond finished with 14, while Jared Woolfolk scored 10.

Corey Billingsley and Jamal Worthington each scored double-figures for the Flames. Billingsley led the court with 31, while Worthington posted 18.

West Alabama will break for a week before returning to the court Jan. 23 to take on North Alabama in the first of a four game road stretch. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at Flowers Hall.

“It will be a very tough road trip for us,” Downey said. “The conference didn’t do us any favors, but if we want to win the league we have to go on the road and win. We’ve been able to do a little bit of that so far, but we have to continue to take it one game at a time.”