The men’s basketball team seemed to suffer with the winter blues before putting it together as January wore on.
Though the men struggled at first, losing six out of their seven away games, they bounced back winning the last four consecutive home games. The Bulldogs are 9-0 in conference at home. The men are in a four-way tie for second place in the Gulf South Conference with Delta State, West Georgia and North Alabama.
Union’s Lady Bulldogs have fought hard for every victory this season, as they trailed at half in the past nine games. The Lady Bulldogs are 15-2 in conference, giving them the 1st place lead in conference. The two losses for the women came from an away game at Delta State and at home against West Florida. The Lady Bulldogs redeemed themselves a few weeks ago beating Delta State 59-51 at home, solidifying the top spot. Both teams are looking forward to a big road trip this weekend as they take on Valdosta State Thursday, Feb. 11, and West Florida Saturday, Feb. 13.
Even though the Union Bulldogs suffered disheartening losses early on, losing in double overtime at University of Alabama Hunstville and overtime at Christian Brothers University, they have won the past four consecutive home games. Assistant Coach Trevor Lydic was optimistic about the Bulldogs’ upcoming road trip.
“We need to go on the road and prove that we can win,” Lydic said. “This weekend will start preparing us for the conference tournament. You want your team to be playing their best basketball this time of the year. We’ve won the last six of seven games. Now we’re just going to be tested on how well we play on the road.”
Brennan Bowling, sophomore marketing major, is ready to see his team finally put all the pieces together. He said the team has mostly been relying on defense as of late and has won a couple of games while only shooting 30 percent from the field.
The men’s last meeting with West Florida came right after the break at home. To start the game, neither team scored for nearly two minutes. Shots started falling for KC Goodwin and Brennan Bowling as Union led going into the half 36-30. After the half, Union never trailed again to West Florida ending the game 77-65.
Their contest against Valdosta was a little more exciting. Union and Valdosta exchanged baskets for nearly the whole game. Finally, with 1:57 left in the game the score was 69-67 Valdosta. Valdosta’s late turnovers and multiple fouls within the last minute of the game secured the victory to the Bulldogs, 74-71.
The Lady Bulldogs are looking forward to keeping their winning streak alive.
“[This weekend] is a great opportunity to go to two tough gyms and win,” Lauren Avant Sumski, assistant coach, said. “No one else in our league has come out of this weekend with the two wins. We as coaches have done a good job preparing the girls to know what to expect from this weekend, and the girls have done a great job in practice and by themselves preparing.”
“It’s going to be a tough road trip, but I am confident in our team and I think it will be a good experience to prepare us for tournament time,” Chelsea Bodiford, junior exercise science major, said.
The last time the Lady Bulldogs played West Florida, Jada Perkins got things started by scoring the first 2 points of the game and the only 2 points for the Lady Bulldogs of the quarter allowing West Florida to take an 18-2 point lead. The Lady Bulldogs never recovered from the first quarter giving West Florida a 67-75 victory against the Lady Bulldogs.
“If we play our style, we’ll be fine. The last time we played West Florida we won every quarter except the first one. And that’s not going to happen again,” Kelsey Risner, senior exercise science major, said.
Union women’s team rallied after their loss with West Florida and had no problems with Valdosta at home winning 69-46. Valdosta came out shooting well, but soon Coach Mark Campbell settled the girls down and Chelsea Bodiford started the shooting rally for the team which Valdosta never relinquished.
Both teams are looking forward to proving themselves this weekend.
“We’re just trying to get better. We’re just trying to play our best each and every game,” Lydic said.