Privateers sneak up on Lions

The Lions basketball team hosted the University of New Orleans Privateers last week after a split road trip. They were handed a defeat by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and then redeemed themselves with a win over Houston Baptist last week. Head Coach Jim Yarbrough and his team were disappointed by the 85-90 loss last Thursday in the University Center against the Privateers.
Offensively the team shined, but defensively the players have not quite found a rhythm.  
The Lions (9-11, 4-5 SLC) started off the game ahead, keeping the momentum up during the first half constantly vying to hold onto the lead. Junior guard JaMichael Hawkins and junior center Devonte Upson forced blocks and steals to turn over the Privateer ball, but soon the opposition tied the game. Going into the locker room at halftime, the game was tied 39-39. Junior forward Onochie Ochie was 2-2 for free throws in the first half, and he felt the second half would be better than the first. The 39-39 score was a boost for him, and his team, to keep pushing through.
“We had confidence coming back out because we didn’t play a good first half at all, had a lot of turnovers and defensive errors, but we were still tied,” Ochie said. “The first half we were struggling, but still tied, so we were going to try and make the push, but unfortunately UNO played a good game the second half.”
The Privateers (8-9, 5-4 SLC) came into the University Center on a two-game road win streak, so looking to take home a third road win, the Privateers came back like a bullet in the final 10 minutes of the match. The score tied at 60-60, then very quickly moved to a 10-point game. Offensively Yarbrough was pleased with scoring 85 points, but the team still seems to struggle defensively. The man-to-man defense, screening and quick rebounds only lasted for the first few minutes of the game, then suddenly it was a game of catch-up so the Lions could not hold their lead.
“For the first six or seven minutes it looked like we were in a good place, but then foul trouble started to mount,” Yarbrough said. “We couldn’t keep some people in the game, and we couldn’t quite get control of the game again.”
The Lions head on another road trip this week, and Yarbrough plans for the team to work on defense during practice. The team has faced adversity before, but Yarbrough knows winning can happen for his team.
“We can’t defend a lead, and when you turn the ball over like we did, there’s really no defense there which led right to scores,” Yarbrough said.
The Lions will play Central Arkansas on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. and Oral Roberts on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. The Lions return home for a game against McNeese State on Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the University Center.