Playing in his final home game at The Coliseum for Senior Day, Hill poured in a game-high 22 points and knifed his way through the lane time and time again to lead the Wolves to a 72-61 victory on the eve of next week’s Gulf South Conference Tournament.
The Oakland product’s biggest play of the game broke a 46-all tie when he got loose for a fast break and Union’s Pedro Faller’s tried to wrap up the burly Hill, who still converted the lay-up with Faller being whistled for an intentional foul. Hill knocked down 1-of-2 free-throw attempts and Dan Trimble converted a bucket on the ensuing in-bounds play, making for a five-point possession that sparked a 13-1 UWG run.
“That’s huge. That’s just huge,” West Georgia coach Michael Cooney said. “Then a few possessions later he passes and gets Zach [Taulien] open for a 3 and that all starts with good guard play. I know [Hill] turned the ball over a little more than we’re used to, but he played 38 minutes Thursday night against North Alabama. Just a pretty good effort to come back and have his line [Saturday].”
West Georgia (9-17, 6-12 GSC) led from start to finish on Saturday, taking a 34-26 advantage into intermission, but the Bulldogs pulled even after hitting three consecutive 3-pointers just before Hill’s big conversion on the fast break.
Following the Wolves’ 13-1 run, Union (8-18, 6-12) got no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as the UWG defense held the Bulldogs to a 6-of-21 shooting clip (29 percent) from downtown and a 20-of-56 (36 percent) showing from the floor. West Georgia, meanwhile, shot 25-of-52 (48 percent) from the field on a night it honored Hill and fellow senior Brett Seljak.
It was a far cry from the previous meeting in Jackson, Tenn., when Union shot 62 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc in the first half en route to a 79-55 rout, where Anthony Freeman, Jr., and Dani Marti combined for 36 points. On Saturday, the Wolves held Union’s frontcourt duo to just 16 points, with Freeman, Jr., getting 13 of those. Marti did pull down a game-high 16 rebounds, but he finished 1-of-8 from the floor and recorded just three points.
“We did a great job on them. That’s what we emphasized, that we’ve got to take away the post, take away that guy’s 3s and then we’ll take our chances with the rest of them,” Cooney said.
Roy Bullock III led Union with 18 points, while Corieon Pearson added 15. Along with Hill’s 22-point night, Thomas Higginbotham and Taulien both posted 11 points for the Wolves.
West Georgia opens the GSC Tournament as a No. 8 seed against top-seeded and sixth-ranked Alabama-Huntsville, which entered play on Saturday at 21-4 overall and 14-3 in league play.
But as winners of two of its last three, Cooney is confident his ball club won’t be intimidated going into Birmingham on Thursday evening for the quarterfinal round.
“We’re not worried about regional rankings, we’re not worried about our seeding. We’ve just been concentrating about getting better. Next week, that tournament is our tournament. And we know that,” Cooney said.
“We know from three to seven, we can beat all those teams. We blew the North [Alabama] game here, missing 17 free throws. We took them to the wire [Thursday]. We have to beat Huntsville. If we can, then it’s wide-open.”