The Wolves (5-3) are coming off a 71-64 road win against Columbus State on Wednesday, where coach Scott Groninger didn't feel his team played its best game. That being said, UWG was able to come away with the win, which is the sign of the team coming together and producing.
"It's good to be coming back home. Columbus State, it was a nice win, but we didn't play very well. Any time you commit 30 turnovers, it's hard to feel like you played well — and we didn't. We did some things well, we shot the ball well and we had a good run to give us a cushion," Groninger said.
"We talked about that, that's what good teams do. All coaches, we want to play great every night and players want that, but sometimes you don't play very good. Those are the wins that you look back when the season is over, when you played just OK or you didn't play well, but you were able to make a couple plays down the stretch. Those are the things that make a team a good team or a championship team."
Coming into The Coliseum is a 10-1 Warhawks squad that is fresh off its only loss of the season. Auburn-Montgomery currently sits at No. 20 in the latest NAIA polls, with Freed-Hardeman, which defeated the Warhawks, 75-49, last Wednesday, ranked second.
"We're going to have our hands full with them. At this stage, we're just going to concentrate on ourselves trying to play hard and keep some of the rhythm we're starting to establish," Groninger said.
The Wolves continue to be led by Mone Peoples offensively at 13 points per game, but behind her is a balanced attack with Jerlissa Taylor (8.6), Taylor Turgeon (7.8), Brittany Johnson (7.4), Breonna Mosely (7.3) and JaDecia Hill (7.0) all at least seven points per game.
On the other side, Auburn-Montgomery's LaKenya Drayton leads the team with 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, while Keisha Moore adds 10.2 points.
With the win at Columbus State, the Wolves have won back-to-back games for the first time this season since they opened the year 2-0. West Georgia has not won three games straight yet this season. Even now with finals over, this is a tough time of year because UWG will have to play without some of its usual support.
"We're still in that phase. We're trying to put things back-to-back-to-back now. This last week after finals, [Friday] was a tough day because campus is empty and everyone's gone. Saturday we're going to wake up, go to shoot around and nobody's going to be there. There's not going to be that many people, no students at the game. This is a tough stretch to go through," Groninger said.
The Wolves (4-3) will put their first win streak to the test tonight when they travel to Augusta to face Paine at 4 p.m. today.
Coming off back-to-back wins for the first time this season, West Georgia is looking to keep things going over the holiday break while trying to pick up its first road win of the year.
"For us, we've played well on the road these last two games, tough losses at Clayton and Huntsville. It's about doing enough things right to win a region, [Division] II road game against a SIAC team that's picked to finish in the upper half. The thing is we have to play better defensively, be smarter with our shot selection," UWG coach Michael Cooney said.
In the last three wins, the formula has been simple enough — get to the free-throw line and make the free throws. That was especially true in Tuesday's five-point win against Clayton State.
UWG is traveling a little into the unknown. The Lions (1-2) have played just three games this season and might be getting a roster boost ahead of the game.
"Well, we really don't know what to expect. They're adding players now that finals are over. I'm told two really good wing forward types that are real physical and get-to-the-rim type guys," Cooney said. "This is a big home game for them that they're anticipating. It's some anniversary for them. There's a hype about the game."
With some roster shortages due to injuries and another one to Scott Oudendyk a couple games ago, the Wolves are going away from their more traditional man-to-man defense and optioning for the zone. So far that has worked in both stopping the other team and staying out of foul trouble.
"The thing that we can take from the Shorter game, the [Clayton State] and the Columbus State game is that we were able to rely on our zone and play it much more than we've played it in the past. Only having, really, nine players that can go ... we just don't have a lot of depth. We've got to play the zone for a couple reasons. We've got to keep guys from driving and getting fouls on us," Cooney said. "And then the Shorter game, we forced 27 3's."
Quincy Hill's 18-point effort on Tuesday increased his team-leading scoring to 15.6 points a game, while Mario Jordan leads the Lions with 13.5.
Between long layoffs, the Wolves were able to get a big win against Clayton State and want the momentum to continue into today and Tuesday's final game of the calendar year.
"When you're off for 10 days, you can get out of rhythm. We're happy to play, have a practice, some rest and go play again. That will lead us into Tuesday. Hopefully, we'll have a good result and get some momentum going into Tuesday's home game against St. Augustine's before we go home for the break," Cooney said.