Second-half comeback falls short; No. 10 Argos upset by Auburn-Montgomery

By Tyler Wood
Sports writer

The University of West Florida men’s basketball team was handed its first home loss of the season in a 73-70 contest against Auburn-Montgomery on Sunday.

The tenth-ranked Argos (17-2, 9-2 GSC) trailed by as many as 23 points but fought back in the second half to cut the deficit to as little as two before ultimately falling to the Warhawks (8-10, 4-7 GSC).

The loss marks the first time the Argos have lost at the UWF Field House since Dec. 31, 2016, when they fell to Alabama-Huntsville.

Senior guard Marvin Jones led the Argos with 17 points, followed by fellow senior DJ Thorpe who added 16. Henri Ventoniemi and Darryl Tucker were the only other Argos to reach double-digits with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

The Argos held a one-point lead seven minutes into the game when the Warhawks went on a 30-6 run. UWF scored seven unanswered points to cut into the deficit but still trailed by 16 at the half.

Midway through the second half, the Argos seemed to have new life, gaining back the momentum and continuing to whittle away at the Warhawks’ lead. The crowd of nearly 500 was on its feet and cheering for a comeback that ultimately came up a few seconds short.

After the game, a disappointed Coach Jeff Burkhamer shared his thoughts on the loss to Auburn-Montgomery.

“I thought [Auburn]-Montgomery came in here and punched us in the face,” Burkhamer said. “We didn’t want anything to do with it.”

The Argos shot 46 percent from the field and were 8-of-17 from the free throw line. AUM had no such problem, making 69 percent of its shots and building a tremendous lead.

Mistakes mounted in the first half for the Argos, with turnovers and poor decisions from veteran players. After halftime, UWF was able to correct some of its mistakes and began to play better.

“When you go 1-for-5 from the foul line, and turn it over 13 times in the first half, and give up 69 percent with them shooting, you’re going to have a deficit,” Burkhamer said. “I thought our effort in the second half was better. We did work and play harder in the second half, but it was just too little, too late.”

Ventoniemi saw significantly more playing time than Tucker, two players that typically share the workload in the low post.

“[Tucker] didn’t want to work, Henri outworked him,” Burkhamer said. “You put him in the post, and he just stands down there. I don’t know what’s happened with his play right now, but Henri’s playing harder than him. We’ll play Henri until Darryl decides to play again.”

Burkhamer said in Friday’s win over West Georgia that it’s easier to teach from a win than a loss, but he plans to use this loss as an opportunity to show his team some things they did wrong.

“We’ve got to listen, we’ve got to execute,” Burkhamer said. “We’ve got to defend for entire possessions, not part of possessions. There’s a lot of things that we’ll be able to show them on tape. I think the guys that listen, it will help, and the guys that don’t listen, it won’t help.”

The Argos will be back on the road Thursday in a GSC matchup with North Alabama (10-8, 5-6) at 8 p.m. They will then travel to Huntsville to take on UAH (12-7, 5-6) 4 p.m. on Saturday.

 

Photos by Tyler Wood

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