UWF men’s basketball finishes historic season with win over Shorter

go Tyler Wood
Contributing Writer

The University of West Florida men’s basketball team capped off their best season since 1997-98 with a 110-103 win over conference rival Shorter University on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The Argos and Hawks battled through a physical and emotional game for 40 minutes, and when the final buzzer sounded, the Argos celebrated a big win on UWF’s Senior Day. With the win, the Argos improved to 20-8 overall, and 14-8 in Gulf South Conference play.

Junior guard Marvin Jones awaits free throw attempt in Saturday’s 110-103 win over Shorter University.Photo by Tyler Wood.

Junior guard Marvin Jones led the Argos in scoring with 26 points, knocking down five three-point buckets. Darryl Tucker, a junior forward, had a strong performance off the bench with 22 points, seven rebounds and two assists across 27 minutes.

Seniors Deangelo Legrier and Jason Laatsch played in their final regular season game as Argonauts, capping off their long and successful careers at UWF with a strong showing. Austin Somerfield, the only other senior, missed the last half of the season with a torn achilles.

Legrier finished the night with a double-double by scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, to go along with two assists and one block in his 39 minutes of play.

Laatsch, UWF’s all-time leader in both three-pointers made and three-pointers attempted, tallied 11 points and four assists, knocking down three more three-pointers to add to his record breaking 140 career baskets from behind the arc.

Sophomore point guard Rashaan Benson finished the game with 13 points, eight assists,

UWF forward Deangelo Legrier backs down two Hawks’ defenders in Saturday’s 110-103 win over Shorter University.Photo by Tyler Wood.

and four rebounds for the Argos.

Shorter was led in scoring by an outstanding performance from guard Phil Taylor, who scored 54 of the Hawks’ 103 points and played all 40 minutes of the game, while knocking down 20-of-21 free throws. The Hawks’ only other double-digit scorer was Damerit Brown, who added 25 points and also played the entire game.

The Argos’ head coach Jeff Burkhamer said he was pleased with the team’s play in the victory that brought them to 20 wins on the season.

“That’s a heck of a game. Great job by our players, great effort beating a team that’s very difficult to play against,” Burkhamer said after the game. “That’s a 20-win season right there.”

“This year’s team kind of took the next step. Last year we talked about building a team and building a program, building a culture,” Burkhamer said as he addressed the players and fans at the post-game senior celebration. “This year our motto was ‘Making waves in the Gulf South.’ I think we really did that and I think we surprised some people.”

UWF guards Marvin Jones (left) and Rashaan Benson (right), in UWF’s 110-103 win over Shorter. Photo by Tyler Wood.

The last UWF men’s basketball team to eclipse the 20-win mark was the 1997-98 team, which ended its season with an identical record of 20-8. The Argos were able to match their best season in program history by going 13-3 over their final 16 games of the season, winning nine consecutive home games to end their 2016-17 campaign.

Prior to the 2016-17 season, the program had three consecutive seasons with only seven wins each. This season’s 20 wins made for the biggest single season turnaround in UWF basketball history, winning 13 more games than the 2015-16 season.

The Argos’ season isn’t over yet, though. Their performance this season has netted them a spot in this year’s GSC Tournament, their first appearance since 2013-14. The Argos will travel to Memphis to play against Christian Brothers University in the first round of the GSC Tournament. West Florida and Christian Brothers split their regular season series at one game each.

Beyond the GSC Tournament, the Argos seem to have all but locked up their chance to play in the NCAA Division II tournament. If they do indeed clinch a spot in the tourney, it would be the program’s first in school history.