With three games remaining in the regular season, the University of West Georgia women’s basketball team finds itself in a two-way tie for second place in the Gulf South Conference standings, just one game behind front-runner Delta State.
The Wolves (15-8, 9-6 GSC) can move into a tie atop the standings today with a win over the Lady Statesmen (15-8, 10-5), who come to The Coliseum for a 2 p.m. showdown entering the final week of the regular season.
Delta State won the first meeting of the year — a 65-54 decision in Cleveland, Miss., on Jan. 19 — and the Wolves will look to even the series today in what is now the biggest game of the season to date for Scott Groninger’s ball club.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to, if we win, good things are really going to happen for us. That’s what you really want to work for this time of year. You want to put yourself in a position where every win’s a huge win, and that’s where we’re at right now,” Groninger said. “Delta State is certainly an awful good team.”
DSU suffered a two-point setback on Thursday night at West Alabama and the Wolves also got some help from Shorter, which knocked off North Alabama (16-9, 9-6) that same night to set up an exciting final week of action heading into the GSC Tournament.
The Wolves have a tougher schedule, on paper, over the next week, traveling to Florence, Ala., on Thursday to face the Lions and then wrapping up the regular season back at home against Union (17-6, 12-3) — which is not eligible for postseason play this year — next Saturday.
Delta State, meanwhile, has perhaps the easiest road to the regular-season crown, hosting West Florida (6-17, 3-12) on Thursday and Valdosta State (14-9, 7-8) on Saturday. After hosting the Wolves on Thursday, North Alabama wraps up the regular season at West Alabama on Saturday.
And while UWG, winners of 10 straight at home, may have the more difficult path to the regular-season crown and No. 1 GSC Tournament seed, Groninger welcomes it.
“I think it’s good. We talked about it [Thursday] night. This is February. You’re not supposed to have easy games. Every game is supposed to be a challenge. If you’re a really competitive team, that’s what you want and we’re certainly going to get that and more these next three games. I think that only prepares you for tournament play,” Groninger said.
UWG men: The Wolves (7-16, 4-11) have been sniffing out a win over the past two weeks, only to have their efforts negated in a steady stream of gut-wrenchers. Of UWG’s last four losses during its current 10-game slide, all have been by single digits, including Thursday night’s 74-70 home decision to Christian Brothers.
West Georgia remains focused on building positive momentum heading toward the GSC Tournament, beginning today against the Statesmen (9-14, 5-10), who are just a game ahead of the Wolves in the league standings.
UWG coach Michael Cooney said it will be a bruising affair today, but he expects to have his frontcourt back and ready to go today for the 4 p.m. contest.
“They just hammer you. It is about as hard and physical brand of basketball as I’ve seen in this league in 16 years. They hit you. The good news there is Brett [Seljak] will be back. He got some minutes [Thursday]. Dan [Trimble] never got in a rhythm [Thursday], getting in quick fouls early, and there really wasn’t a good matchup for him. Scott [Oudendyk] will be able to play against these guys. Spencer [Ford] contributed in the first half and all the big guys will be available in this game,” Cooney said.
Times-Georgian Sports Reporter Jordan Hofeditz contributed to this story.