It was the second-to-last conference road trip for the UAFS men's and women's basketball team and it was a dogfight for both teams.
On Thursday, the UAFS women's team looked to sweep the University of Texas - Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas. The Lady Lions led by as much as 12 in the first half and led by 9 at halftime. In the second half, things got a little more interesting. The Lady Falcons of UTPB cut the lead to 1 during the second half and a three-point shot at the buzzer sent the game to overtime. But in overtime the Lady Lions pulled away for good, outscoring the Lady Falcons 8-2 in the extra period giving them a 77-69 victory. Freshman Justyne Huber led the lady lions with 21 points and also grabbed 7 rebounds. Freshman Maddy Backus added 15 points to help the Lady Lions escape UTPB.
The Lions and Falcons have been two of the top teams in the Heartland Conference and Thursday they took the court against each other. The Lions started the game with a bang as Xavier McClish threw a lob to Bo Franklin for the slam. The rest of the first half was very close with both teams trading buckets. UAFS narrowly led at halftime 44-41. In the second half senior guard Jake Toupal and freshman guard Seth Youngblood took over. Toupal scored half of his team high 16 points in the second half. Youngblood scored 9 of his 12 points after the intermission and Alex Cooper and McClish each hit 5 free throws to help keep the visiting team ahead. The Lions steadily stayed in front the whole second half and when the Falcons full court heave fell short, the Lions were victorious 83-80. In addition to Toupal and Youngblood, three other Lions scored in double figures - McClish had 15 points, Cooper had 14 points, and senior forward Corey Copeland finished with 10 points.
On Saturday, the Lady Lions squared off with the Lubbock Christian Lady Chaps in Lubbock, Texas. Midway through the first half, the Lady Lions held a 6 point advantage over the highly-favored Lady Chaps. But the Lady Chaps made a run which was then countered by UAFS. The Lady Lions had a two point lead over LCU at halftime, 37-35. After the intermission, the home team began to pull away. A big run early in the half put the Lady Chaps up for good. Despite a late rally by the Lady Lions, they never got closer than 76-70 as Lubbock Christian pulled away to win 92-77. Four players scored in double digits for UAFS: Blandine N'Goran led the way with 18 points, Maddy Backus scored 14 points, and sophomore Chauntel Terry and freshman Justyne Huber both contributed with 10 points each.
The Lions and the Chaps took the court following the girls matchup. UAFS came into the game as the hottest team in the league winning their last 8 games and after the opening tip it looked as if it were going to be 9. Jake Toupal started the game with a three and several possessions later Seth Youngblood added two three-pointers of his own. Youngblood had the hot hand on Saturday as he had 17 points at the half (5 three's). The Lions led 47-45 at halftime. Once the second half was underway, the Chaps made a little run to take the lead and they controlled it the rest of the way. With their backs against the wall--down 4 with the seconds ticking away-- Seth Youngblood was fouled on his three-point attempt. After sinking all three free throws, the Lions fouled and the Chaps sank both free throws. Lions trailed by 3 with 7 seconds left. The visiting Lions quickly brought the ball up the floor and found an open Toupal for what would have been a game-tying three but it was no good. The Lions dropped their third conference game 85-82 despite a career-high 28 points from Seth Youngblood, who hit 6 of his 11 three-point attempts. Three other Lions scored in double figures: senior Bo Franklin finished with 12 points and picked up 9 rebounds, Miha Glavas added 11 points, and Toupal had 10 points.
The Lady Lions and Lions return home on Thursday, February 6 against Texas A&M International. Lady Lions tip off at 5:30pm and the Lions will tip off at 7:30pm. On Saturday, February 8, rival St. Mary's comes to town. The Lady Lions tip off at 1pm with the Lions taking the floor right after at 3pm. Come out and support your UAFS men's and women's teams!