(leeuflames.com) After five road games and three home postponements the Lee men’s basketball team finally got back on its home court inside Walker Arena, taking down the Shorter Hawks, 70-60 on Tuesday evening.
The Flames (5-1) cracked the top 25 for the first time this season at No. 18 in the NCAA D2 Media Poll and are receiving votes in the NABC Coaches Poll. Shorter falls to 1-4 on the year.
The Lee defensive smothered the Hawks in the first half as the Flames flew around Walker Arena affecting shots left and right. Lee held the visitors to just 24 percent shooting from the field (7 of 29) and took a 32-15 halftime as Quay Kennedy found Beyuan Hendricks in the corner for a 3-ball at the buzzer.
“I thought we really got after it defensively in the first half,” said Lee head coach Bubba Smith. “I think we played our type of defense for about 25 minutes tonight and then got back on our heels in the final 15 to let them hang around. Credit to Shorter they play hard and (Charles) Botchway is tough to guard one on one and we didn’t do a good job of playing help defense in the second half.”
Shots were tough to come by for both teams as Lee converted just 37.9 percent for the game while the Hawks shot 38.8 percent. Lee held a 45-36 advantage on the glass and each team turned it over 13 times.
Quay Kennedy, fresh off back-to-back GSC East Player of the Week awards, led a balanced scoring attack for the Flames with 13 points and nine rebounds. Kennedy showcased his versatility in the second half as he drilled a 3-pointer with 16:31 remaining and then immediately rejected a driving layup attempt by Shorter on the other end.
Beyuan Hendricks and Michael McGuirk tallied 12 points each and Jayce Willingham and Tariq Daughton had nine. Daughton added a career-high eight rebounds and was 4 of 5 from the field in 24 minutes of work.
Shorter’s leading scorer Botchway was held in check with just four points in the first half but showcased his athleticism with several driving layups to account for 16 second half points. He also added seven assists and six rebounds. Ricky Knight Jr. followed with 13 points and Jay Shropshire tacked on 11 before fouling out of the contest.
“It certainly felt good to be back home and we are happy to grind out this victory, but we know we can play at a higher level than we played tonight. We will get back to work and get ready for this weekend,” concluded Smith.
The Flames will complete a three-game homestand this weekend as they host West Florida for at two-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. Lee’s lone loss of the season was in Pensacola to start the season, 79-66 back on Dec. 12.