Zachary's sizzling second half lifts Warhawks past Southern Poly, 83-74 | Schools
Sophomore Justin Zachary scored a career-high 26 points, 23 of which came in the second half, as the Auburn Montgomery men’s basketball team defeated Southern Poly 83-74 Saturday in Southern States Athletic Conference play at the AUM Gymnasium.
With the win, the Warhawks improved to 5-7 overall and 4-2 in SSAC play. In addition, AUM matched its season win total and doubled its victories in conference play from last season. The Hornets, who were ranked No. 6 in the NAIA Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 poll, fell to 7-7 overall and 1-5 in league games.
“I talked yesterday about the difficulty when you don’t make shots, and tonight we made shots,” head coach Larry Chapman said. “The youth of our team showed last night, but today (freshman) Spencer Jones hits a couple of big shots and Justin Zachary played a magnificent game. We were concerned last night about the way Reshad (Bickham) played, but today he played awfully well. We started Chris (Bell) again and he responded with a nice game. I thought Tristen’s (Harrell) entrance into the game had a big impact on the game. Quay (Davis) played one of his best games since he has been here. His leadership on the floor was really evident. We really had a nice team effort and played like a different team today.”
Zachary led four AUM players in double figures, as he knocked down five 3-pointers and was 11-of-12 from the charity stripe to earn the career high. Junior Reshad Bickham added 19 points and a team-best six rebounds, while sophomore Quay Davis chipped in 13 points and a team-leading four assists. Junior Chris Bell finished a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor and finished with 10 points, while freshman Spencer Jones knocked down a pair of key 3-pointers in the first half to keep the game within reach and finished with six points. Bickham also pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
“He was active and attacking on the offensive end,” Chapman said of Zachary. “Defensively, he played really well and was involved in the rebounding area. Today was a career day for him and we need him to do that every night. We need his energy and effort to be similar to today in all of our games.”
In the victory, the Warhawks rallied from a four-point halftime deficit and trailed by as many as 10 early in the second half.
AUM trailed 43-33 with 19:02 remaining in the contest after C.J. McElrath and Marcus Dortch hit threes on consecutive possessions to open the second half. However, Zachary hit 3-pointers on four of the Warhawks’ next six possessions, the last of which pulled AUM to within one, 50-49, with 14:59 to play. Following a pair of free throws by Zachary with 14:32 the Warhawks tied the game and took the lead for good.
The Warhawks extended their lead to as many as 10 points in the second half, as a lay-up by freshman Tristen Harrell gave the team a 79-69 lead with 48 seconds remaining.
In the second half, AUM outscored Southern Poly 50-37, thanks in large part to hitting 66.7 percent (16-of-24) from the field, including 5-of-11 from behind the arc. The Warhawks also converted 13-of-18 free throws in the second half. Zachary, Davis and Bickham all scored in double figures in the second period. Defensively, AUM held SPSU to 40.6 percent from the field in the second half, including just 5-of-15 from three-point range.
“We finally bought into coach and to what he has been telling us,” Zachary said. “We really clicked as a team and hit open shots when we had them. This is a great game to build off of and will hopefully give us some confidence going into a tough game next weekend against Faulkner.”
Dortch led four Hornets in double figures with 18 points. Cortez Irby finished with nine points and a game-high eight rebounds.
The Warhawks will return to action next Saturday when they host Faulkner in a doubleheader against the Eagles. The women’s contest will begin at 2 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 4 p.m.
Source: AUM Sports Information Director
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