The University of West Georgia men’s basketball coach held tight on the sideline as his ball club grinded out a 56-46 Gulf South Conference bruiser over West Florida on Saturday evening at The Coliseum, pushing the Wolves over .500 for the year at 7-6 and, more importantly, up to 4-1 in league play.
“It was real physical — almost kind of like a conference playoff game — there wasn’t a lot of calls being made, not a lot of fouls being called. We just kind of had to fight and scratch and dig in there. But we won the game, and that’s the good thing,” Cooney said.
And if you’re going to play in a black-and-blue affair, Quincy Hill is a good guy to have on your side.
The UWG senior point guard bullied his way into the lane against the Argos’ bigs, leading all scorers with 18 points, eight rebounds and five steals to cap off a strong two-game homestand for West Georgia.
“Quincy Hill made play after play for us [Saturday], both offensively and defensively,” Cooney said. “More importantly, in the second half when we got them fatigued, he was able to attack the basket, finish and make plays for us. I thought it was one of the better games he’s played this year.”
West Georgia used a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays from sophomore guard Taylor Cochran early in the first half to build a 19-12 advantage and clung to a 30-22 edge at the half.
In the final 20 minutes, the UWG defense kept the Argos (7-7, 2-4) quiet offensively again, holding UWF to a 9-for-25 clip (36 percent) after it connected on just 9-of-24 (38 percent) from the floor in the opening half. For the game, the Argos went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc.
“We held that team to 46 points. Come on, I mean, that team is going to run their offense. They’re going to run it. It’s real tough to get them out of it,” Cooney said. “Our guys stayed in there and battled. They got some easy ones there at the end that I didn’t like, but we got a lot of stops [Saturday].”
Hill was the only UWG player to reach double figures, with six other players scoring between five and eight points. Peter Connole led UWF with 14 points, while Ellis Young added 13 points and six boards.
And coming off an emotionally-charged GSC win over rival Valdosta State on Thursday, Cooney credited his ball club for finding the energy to close out the week on the positive note heading into a tough stretch where it plays three of the next four on the road.
“The hardest game we play all year is the game after you play Valdosta State. You’re just gut-wrenched after that Thursday night game. And now you’ve got a really good team coming in here on Saturday with short rest. They played West Alabama [on Thursday]. That’s a tough game on the road, but it’s not the level of intensity that you have with the Valdosta game,” Cooney said. “It’s really a hard game. There’s been a lot of our NCAA tournament teams, nationally-ranked teams, that haven’t been able to come back and win that game [after Valdosta]. So I give our guys a lot of credit. They showed a lot of heart and a lot of guts.”
UWG women 80, West Florida 61
The Wolves rode the red-hot hand of senior guard Mone’ Peoples, who poured in a career-high 33 points, drilling an 8-of-12 clip from downtown to shoot down the Lady Argos.
Peoples’ 33-point effort marked the highest single-game total by a UWG women’s player since the 2005-06 season.
Following a first half that featured 16 lead changes and three ties, West Florida (3-11, 0-6) took a 35-32 lead into the locker room, tying the biggest lead of the game for either team through the opening 20 minutes.
The Wolves (9-4, 3-2) used a 19-4 run early in the second half to flip a five-point deficit into a double-digit lead. And from there, Peoples and UWG put the game away.
For West Georgia coach Scott Groninger, the M.O. was the same for his ball club as it was in Thursday night’s decision over Valdosta State, where a strong second-half surge proved to be the difference.
After outscoring Valdosta State, 40-16, in the second half of Thursday’s win, UWG used a 48-26 tally during the final 20 minutes on Saturday against the Lady Argos to close out a 2-0 GSC swing over a three-day stretch.
“I thought we were a little lethargic in the first half and it seems to be a consistent deal with us — I talked about inconsistency last time — but one thing’s been consistent the last two home games, where we’ve came out a little flat and the second half we come out and play well. It’s like I told them, if I had to make a choice, I’ll choose finishing,” Groninger said.
With sophomore forward JaDechia Hill getting into early foul trouble, fellow sophomore Angela Davis provided some big minutes off the bench. The Pope High School product scored six points and five boards in the opening half and finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and five steals in 26 minutes of action.
“Angie, we really wanted to get her going and she did great job. Again, for us to be good, we’ve got to recognize that [Saturday] was Mone’ and the last game it was [JaDechia] Hill. It’s got to be everybody does their thing, and depending on how the teams play — they obviously weren’t getting out to Mone’ — and we found her,” Groninger said.
West Georgia now hits the road for a GSC jaunt to Groninger’s old stomping grounds — Christian Brothers — on Thursday in Memphis, followed by a Saturday date with Delta State in Cleveland, Miss.
“This is a tough trip for us. For me, personally, it’s always great to get back to Memphis. I coached there for six years at Christian Brothers, still have a lot of good friends there, great memories. I also remember how hard it is to win in that gym. And we’re really going to have to get a couple of good days of practice and be ready to go. Because they’re going to be ready to go for us. And, obviously, with Delta State, not much needs to be said. They’re going to be one of the top teams in our league again. If we want to be there, we’re going to have to go there and see what we can do,” Groninger said.