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Photo Courtesy of Jeff Igbokwe

UWG Men’s Basketball Secures a Spot in the Gulf South Conference Tournament

The University of West Georgia’s men’s basketball team confirmed their place in the opening round of the Gulf South Conference (GSC) Tournament last Saturday after a comfortable 83-54 victory against the Alabama Huntsville Chargers.

Jeff Igbokwe

The University of West Georgia’s men’s basketball team confirmed their place in the opening round of the Gulf South Conference (GSC) Tournament last Saturday after a comfortable 83-54 victory against the Alabama Huntsville Chargers.

The occasion was made more significant as it marked this year’s “Basketball Reunion,” the annual event at UWG which honors the 1974 championship-winning men’s basketball team at West Georgia College, with many of those who were in that team in attendance on Saturday’s game. While one of their standout players this season, Camron Donatlan, was absent from the team due to a hamstring injury, UWG managed an impressive defensive performance, subjecting their opposition to a season-low 54 points.

“I don’t think there was anything that we didn’t prepare for,” said Head Coach Dave Moore after the game. “We have played these guys (Alabama Huntsville) a lot over the last six years, and have played them in the tournament a bunch. We knew they were going to mix in their defenses, change back zone man and extend their pressure a little bit. We were ready for all that, so we were prepared for this game, and they didn’t show us anything that we weren’t ready for.”

Three of the standout players offensively for West Georgia were Cole Fisher, Marlon Smith and Zawdie Jackson. It was Fisher who started UWG off to a fast start after the shooting guard scored back-to-back three-pointers in the first four minutes of the game, with Jackson and Smith helping West Georgia go into halftime up 37-18.

In the second half, Alabama Huntsville was much better offensively as they managed to shoot 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from three, however, Jackson never let the opposition back into the game as he went for 18 points in the half, ending the game with an impressive 30 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. 

“Zawdie Jackson played like a first-team All-League player, he was 30 in 10, he controlled the pace, made big plays, and we needed him today. Zawdie obviously stood out with his numbers,” said Moore. “Cole Fisher was also a huge lift for us. He was making shots, and he’s got 14 in 9, nine big rebounds for Cole with the two-guard spot is something that we really needed. He had 27 defensive rebounds for the game, which was a huge key to winning, so I thought he was big. 

“And then Marlon Smith came in for Cam Donatlan in the starting lineup, his shot-making was really good tonight, 4 for 8 from 3,” continued Moore. “We absolutely needed that against these guys [Alabama Huntsville]. Those three players carried us offensively, but the defense and rebounding were what really stood out. That’s how you win.”

Proud of his team, Moore claimed that this victory would give his team confidence going forward, however, he expressed the importance of keeping focus for the entirety of the game, despite the result.

“We just have to keep playing 40 minutes, I thought we gave up some easy baskets at the end that we didn’t want to concede. We want to keep defending and rebounding, and continue to take pride in our defensive numbers that we put up,” Moore continued. “Other than that, I thought everybody contributed when they got in the game. They played hard, they played together and that is what we are all about.”