The Blazers (9-4, 1-4 Gulf South Conference) led by 13 points eight minutes into the game, but that's when the West Georgia offense got going and baskets started to fall. A strong end to the first half and a quick start to the second put the Wolves in position to take their third straight against the rivals from southern Georgia.
"The guys see that, they say, 'You know what, if [Boston's] fighting like that, we've got to be fighting like that.' When you have a young team, you need role models. How many shots did he have blocked? He must have had five or six, but he just said, 'I'm not going to quit.' Again, great job of teaching what needs to be done to win these hard games," UWG coach Michael Cooney said.
Overcoming a very slow start to the contest — making just one of their first 11 field-goal attempts — the Wolves finished the first half in a flurry of 3-pointers that helped them get back in the game. Zach Taulien, Deontre Brown and Quincy Hill all hit from behind the 3-point line. Hill's was the crucial make, as his trey with just seconds left cut the halftime deficit to one point at 29-28.
The 3-pointer from the senior guard injected new life into the Wolves (6-6, 3-1), as they used an 8-0 run at the beginning of the second half to go up, 36-29. From there, the Blazers were able to get back to within two points, but another Wolves push — capped by a Dan Trimble 3-pointer — kept UWG in control of the game.
"Quincy Hill and Sean Boston showed our guys this is what we've got to do to win this game. They kept attacking. Sean pulling offensive rebounds, then Quincy literally taking it to the rim, stealing it, hitting the 3. I really think right then everybody in the building, including my team, thought we can really beat these guys," Cooney said. "Quincy Hill missed a lot of lay-ins [Thursday] night, but he made a lot of big plays for us."
Boston was the one who stepped up to keep the team in the game while everyone else took a little longer to get going. Sometimes, that's what it takes to win big ball games.
"You've just got to keep fighting. We've got to have that dog in — us no matter what game we play. We're going to come out the underdog in every game, because people think we're going to lay over and let them beat us. But we're not that type of team. We're going to fight every game, and we've got a good chance to win this league," Boston said.
The JUCO transfer led the way with 16 points and 13 rebounds — nine offensive — in the win, while Hill used the 3-ball to score 12 points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Thomas Higginbotham also reached double figures with 11 points in the game.
As badly as things started for the Wolves, that might be the reason for the win, as they got things turned around midway through the first half.
"It's a huge win for us. It gives us confidence. We came off a real good win at West Alabama and followed it up with another outstanding effort. Got to give our guys a ton of credit. Things were not going well to start this game. Funny how it was, it turned to our advantage because it got our guys really fighting," Cooney said.
The comeback was witnessed by a GSC record crowd of 5,614, who were quiet early, but got very into the game as it went on into the second half.
"It was real exciting to play in front of this crowd. This is what we deserve. We work hard enough to deserve this crowd and we're going to give this crowd a show to see. We're going to make sure the game's exciting. We play hard and we come out and do what we do," Hill said. "It's real exciting just to put some points on the board for our team. We've got to keep adding points, keep playing defense and get stops. But it's real exciting making them 3s, though."
Valdosta State's James Anacreon scored a game-high 22 and Josh Sparks had 18 rebounds and eight blocks, but it wasn't enough, as the Wolves shot 40 percent (8-20) from the 3-point line and made 20 of their 31 free throws to keep the lead and seal the game late.
Cooney is enjoying coaching a team that lost three expected contributers before the regular season even started. Now they are 3-1 in conference after their third straight league win and have a chance to improve to 4-1 in the GSC on Saturday when they host West Florida at 4 p.m.
"We're just taking them one at a time. We're in a good place right now. We know if we don't fight, scratch, claw, maybe get some breaks and make free throws, that the balloon can pop on us. We've got West Florida that's coming in here," Cooney said. "Really proud of this team. Always big to beat Valdosta at home ... you lose the game and kids all the sudden say, 'We went to the game and we lost.' Now they saw them win, and hopefully they come back Saturday and we get some momentum going."