Even the best of movie writers probably could not come up with a more exciting way for a basketball team to end a six-game losing streak. With Lee and West Georgia deadlocked at 80, junior Corey Billingsley sank a 23-foot shot with 0.6 seconds remaining to give the Flames a thrilling 83-80 victory over the visiting Wolves.
“It was the biggest shot of my college career,” said Billingsley after the dramatic victory. “I made several big shots in high school but nothing that counted like this one.” Billingsley admitted he told his teammates the ball was his after West Georgia’s Deonta Stocks nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 80 with 6.1 seconds remaining.
Playing before the second largest crowd of the season in Walker Arena, the Flames gave the fans their money’s worth and more. Lee led 33-30 at the half and built up what looked like a comfortable 13-point advantage early in the second 20 minutes.
Led by a brilliant 36-point performance from Stocks, with 30 points in the second half, the Wolves came fighting back and tied the contest at 72 with some three minutes remaining. The two clubs traded the lead over the next two minutes behind the play of West Georgia’s Stocks and Lee’s Jamal Worthington.
Senior Brice Sharp hit a pair of free throws with 16 seconds remaining to give Lee an 80-77 advantage. Stocks came right back and hit a 3-pointer just before Billingsley touched off a king-sized celebration with his off-balance 3-point shot. He paced Lee’s balanced scoring with 22 points and was 12-of-12 from the free-throw line.
Coach Tommy Brown had watched his team fight for around 32 minutes in six of their eight losses this season. “We didn’t fold down the stretch this time,” said the exhausted coach. “I’ve got to give our fans some of the credit for that. We had three freshmen on the floor for most of the second half and they are growing up. At this point in the season, I don’t guess we could consider them freshmen any longer. They have been tested by a lot of good basketball teams.”
One of the three freshmen, Worthington, posted a double-double and hit some of what Brown described as “amazing shots” in the second half surge. He finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds and dished off a couple of assists. Tyquan Roberts battled inside and posted 14 points to go along with his eight rebounds.
Another freshman, Stedmon Ford, followed with 11 points and was 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Overall, the Flames were solid from the line, converting 33-of-41 attempts (81 percent). The third freshman, Jervon Johnson, canned three treys and grabbed four rebounds in finishing with nine points. Sharp scored all seven of his points from the free-throw line. He also pulled down six rebounds as did Billingsley. The Flames won the battle of the boards 43-35.
While Stocks was carrying most of the scoring burden for the Wolves, Ryan Godfrey and Taylor Cochran had 12 points apiece. Phillip Flowers added nine points and eight rebounds in the loss.
The Flames (7-8 overall, 3-6 in the GSC) will try to build on the sweet victory when they host rival Shorter University on Saturday at 7 p.m. It will be the first meeting between the Flames and Hawks since both switched to NCAA Division II and joined the Gulf South Conference.
LADY FLAMES 66,
LADY Wolves 39
The Lee women’s basketball team used a balanced scoring attack and suffocating defense to fire past the University of West Georgia, 66-39 Thursday evening in Walker Arena.
The Lady Flames (11-4, 7-2) have now won four straight Gulf South Conference games while the Wolves fall to 4-12 overall and 2-8 in conference play.
From the opening tip the “Maroon-and-White” held control as the Lady Flames went 26-of-55 (47.3 percent) from the field while hitting a sizzling 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from the 3-point line. The Lee defense would limit the Wolves to just 26 percent shooting (13-of-50) in the contest.
“Balanced is how we like to play offensively,” noted head coach Marty Rowe, “tonight we got production from several different players, including a big night from Madison (Lee). It has been all mental with her since her injury, so we were glad to get her going offensively tonight.”
Lee led the Lady Flames with 14 points, going a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc. Leading scorer Hollie German got a nice rest late in the contest and finished with 13 points in 33 minutes of action.
“I thought our post play was excellent tonight. Jenna (Adams), Karley (Miller) and Myriah all played very well,” remarked Rowe.
Adams scored 11 points in the contest which gives her exactly 1,000 points in her career as a Lady Flame. The junior joins just 23 other Lee women’s basketball players in the exclusive 1,000-point club.
Karley Miller added six points and nine rebounds while Myriah Illes provided a punch off the bench with eight markers and seven boards. As a team the Lady Flames outscored the Wolves 32-18 in the paint and held a commanding 42-26 advantage on the glass.
Senior Rachel Lockhart dished off nine assists to set the offense in motion while swiping two steals on the defensive end.
“Rachel always gives us such a great overall effort. Tonight was no different with the assists and the defense she plays,” added a pleased Rowe.
West Georgia was paced by Angela Davis with 14 points and five rebounds. Marion Lemonnier added nine points while the 6-foot-6 Anastasia Riabchenko tallied eight markers.
“We’re getting better with each game and continuing to improve. I thought we played with a lot of effort tonight,” concluded Rowe.
Lee outscored the Wolves 30-18 in the opening half. West Georgia would hold its only lead in the contest with 18:12 remaining in the first half.
The Lady Flames will welcome a familiar face to Walker Arena on Saturday at 5 p.m. as they resume their rivalry with Shorter University. The two teams did not play each other last year, but will now once again battle as conference rivals, this time at the Division II rank. Lee holds a 29-13 record all-time against the Lady Hawks.