Wolves fall to Lady Flames in Gulf South shootout

Cece (Siera) Carter, West Georgia’s leading scorer in two games at home last weekend, is shown vs. Lee.

Special to the Times-Georgian

The University of West Georgia women’s basketball team delivered a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance Saturday at The Coliseum.

Normally a tough and gritty defensive team, the Wolves relied on their offensive firepower in an 85-75 Gulf South Conference East setback to Lee in a tussle where they led by five points early in the fourth quarter. But the Flames used a late 12-0 run to take control of the contest and secure the series sweep on the heels of Friday night’s 69-60 decision. The run was part of a 31-point fourth quarter for the visitors, which shot 10-of-13 (77%) from the floor in the final 10 minutes and went 5-of-6 (83%) from 3-point range during that time.

“We just didn’t defend. And this is the opposite of (Friday) night. We shoot the heck out of it from 3, but I thought we made some really poor fundamental decisions defensively. We closed out soft on shooters. After playing them four times, we know who the shooters are. We still closed out soft,” UWG head coach Scott Groninger said.

Trailing by nine at halftime, the Wolves (5-11, 5-11 GSC East) kicked the offense into high gear behind the hot hand of Tahya Campbell. The senior guard knocked down five 3-pointers in the second half to pull even at 50-all after converting on 7-of-9 attempts to start the third quarter, including a trio of bombs from beyond the arc.

West Georgia sophomore guard Valencia Carroll stroked the fourth trey of the period with five seconds remaining to give the Wolves a 55-54 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Wolves stretched the lead to five points early in the fourth quarter, but Lee junior guard Haley Schubert proved to be clutch once again down the stretch, nailing a 3-pointer at the 5:33 mark to put the Flames (10-5, 10-5) up by one.

UWG junior guard CeCe Carter connected on a 3-pointer at the other end to momentarily put the Wolves back on top at 69-68 with 4:18 to go, and that’s when the Flames rattled off the 12-0 run, as UWG would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.

Schubert, who scored a game-high 31 points in Friday’s win, scored 19 points with six assists and four steals in the series finale, while freshman guard Julia Duncan also posted 19 points for Lee with four other players all scoring 11 points.

Carter led the Wolves with 17 points and seven rebounds, followed by Campbell with 15 points on five 3-pointers and junior guard Nijeria Jordan with 12 points.

On Friday, the Wolves delivered a gutsy defensive performance, as the setback certainly didn’t come from a lack of effort.

“Lee is a good basketball team, but it’s just hard to win games at home when you shoot 31% and turn it over 22 times. Some of those shots we’re not making are good shots,” Groninger said.

The Wolves played even with the Flames through the first half, entering the second quarter tied at 16-all and the half knotted up at 26-26.

UWG came out of the locker room and scored the first four points of the third quarter for the 30-26 lead, forcing Lee head coach Marty Rowe to call a timeout. Rowe got the attention of his players, as the Flames responded with 11 straight points for a 37-30 advantage.

Lee stretched its lead to as much as 15 points in the third quarter, but the Wolves were able to regroup and capitalize behind their tenacious defensive pressure, pulling within 48-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

Both teams took one another’s best shot through the fourth quarter, and it was Carter throwing the team on her back offensively, cutting the Lee lead to 61-58 on a step-back 3-pointer with 2:12 to go. But it was too much Schubert down the stretch, as the Lee standout point guard sealed the deal at the free-throw line, going 8-for-8 and finishing with a game-high 31 points on 11-of-23 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and four assists.

Carter, who was in foul trouble during the first half, did the bulk of her damage after the break, scoring a team-high 17 points with five rebounds, while Carroll added 10 points and junior post Morgan Perkins scored eight points with 11 rebounds and five steals.

The Wolves close out the 2020-21 campaign this weekend with a road trip to Rome to face Shorter in a 6 p.m. showdown on Friday, followed by the series and season finale at 2 p.m. on Saturday.