2004-05 Articles Archive: Post-Holiday break – January

West Georgia makes it 11 straight

West Georgia 102
Johnson C. Smith 84
Morrow, Ga. – December 29, 2004 – 11-0 and counting for the 2004-05 Braves. Except for a small stretch early in the second half of Wednesday night’s contest, the West Georgia Braves didn’t look rusty in their return to the floor after the holiday break, dispatching the Johnson C. Smith Bulls 102-84.

The Braves didn’t call a time out for the first 38 minutes and 30 seconds of the contest, a rarity in college basketball. It was also the third game that West Georgia has broken the 100-point barrier.

“In all honesty, I feel I have eight really good players. I never thought it was to my advantage to take a timeout,” said head coach Ed Murphy. “Our three guards were playing really good basketball and I thought it would help them more than it would help us.”

West Georgia opened up the floodgates in the first half against the Bulls, scorching the nets and shooting at a 61 percent clip for a 50-42 point lead.

Normally when a team shoots that well, it means a lot of layups, but the Braves had nearly as many from beyond the arc as easy buckets. Led by 19 first-half points from Ryan Madry, the Braves were 8-of-13 from three-point land. The Bulls kept up, shooting 8-of-17 on three-pointers in the opening half.

Madry hit on 3-of-4 from three-point land while Majestic Mapp also hit three treys in the half. Darnell Miller continues to knock the rust off, dishing out four assists in the opening period.

Halftime Score:
West Georgia 50
Johnson C. Smith 42

In the second half, the Bulls made an early 10-1 run to take the lead at 52-51 just three minutes into the half. But then the Braves showed their explosiveness and opened up an 11-point lead that held for the rest of the contest.

The Braves blazed from the offensive side of the ball on the evening, shooting 55 percent from the floor on the game, including 63 percent from three-point range. UWG also kept up its great assist-turnover ratio with a 20-11 mark.

Five Braves scored in double figures on the night, led by 27 from Madry. The senior was 10-of-14 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Mapp followed suit with 19 poins and Antonio Shaw had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Chris Burras had his second double-double of the season, collecting 12 points and 12 rebounds. Miller was the final Brave in double figures with 12 and also dished out six assists.

The Braves move to 11-0 on the year, while JC Smtih falls to 4-4. West Georgia plays Thursday night in Morrow against in-state rival Albany State.

A night of benchmarks and milestones for West Georgia

West Georgia 107
Albany State 89

Morrow, Ga. – December 30, 2004 – The Braves equaled and made history in quite convincing fashion with a 107-89 victory over Albany State in the Heritage Bank Holiday Classic at Clayton State in Morrow. The win was the 450th in head coach Ed Murphy’s career. It was the 12th in a row for West Georgia, equaling the longest winning streak for an Murphy squad.

It was also the first time since the 1980-81 season that a West Georgia team has scored over 100 points in three straight games. UWG scored 108 against Wingate before the break, then 102 and 107 in the Heritage Bank Holiday Classic. The 80-81 season holds another record that the Braves are chasing, the 13-0 start, best in school history.

It was a career first for All-America candidate Darnell Miller. The senior point guard had a triple-double in the contest, netting 15 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing 14 assists. It was the first ever triple-double achieved at West Georgia.

“Darnell is such a great player and competitor, so it isn’t a surprise to see him get that although it is only the second time it’s happened with one of my teams,” Murphy said. “Tamal Forchion and Rob Neal stepped up in playing much better than they have and I was very proud of them.”

The first half of the matchup was a hard-fought, physical battle from the opening tip to the buzzer, and the Braves were up to the challenge.

Led by star Nick Wallery, Albany State kept up with the hard-charging Braves, but a strong performance from point guard Darnell Miller and big-man Tamal Forchion kept West Georgia in front.

Forchion led the Braves’ attack with 12 points and seven rebounds. followed by a trio of Braves with eight buckets. Miller, Majestic Mapp, and Ryan Madry collected the eight buckets.

West Georgia led by as many as twelve in the half and by 10 with 30 seconds remaining in the period, but a Jarrett Mathis three-pointer with just seconds remaining brought the Golden Rams to within eight at 44-36 going into the locker room. First Half Score
West Georgia 44
Albany State 36

In the second half, it was all West Georgia, starting off with an amazing no-look pass from Miller to Chris Burras that led to an easy layup. The Braves used a 9-2 run out of the locker room to build a 15-point lead in the first three minutes of the half and never looked back.

The lead continued to build until Murphy called off the dogs with 1:27 left in the ballgame. Walk-ons Tariq Shaheed and Reggie Hill hit their free-throws in the final minute for the final difference.

The Braves had four others in double-figures, led by Madry with 21 and Forchion with a 19 point, 13 rebound double-double. Mapp contributed 17 and Neal hit five-of-six from beyond the arc for 15 points.

Next up for West Georgia is a rematch with Augusta State Sunday afternoon in Augusta.

The streak ends in Augusta

Augusta, GA – January 2, 2005 – After opening the season with 12 straight wins, the West Georgia Braves hit the wall here Sunday. The Braves dropped their first game of the season, falling to Augusta State, 82-63 at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

Two factors proved to be huge in the Braves’ loss. The biggest was a cold shooting performance in the first half, as UWG made but four-of-22 shots from the field. As a result, Augusta State carried a 27-point lead, 43-16, into the locker room at halftime. Though the shooting improved in the second half (15-25), the Braves’ deficit was too large to overcome.

“I had no problem with our effort, we weren’t flat,” explained coach Ed Murphy. “We were getting good shots, we just couldn’t get anything to fall in the first half. And, we gave up too many offensive rebounds.”

Augusta State’s control of the boards was the game’s other determining factor. The Jaguars won the battle of the boards, 40-26, a number that included 17 offensive rebounds.

Despite their first half woes, the Braves had it a game in the second half. Down 51-24, West Georgia went on a 20-2 run, cutting Augusta State’s lead to nine, 53-44, with 9:56 to play. However, guard Darnell Miller then picked up his fourth foul, an event followed by the Jaguars’ 9-0 run to retake control of the game.

Majestic Mapp led West Georgia’s scoring with 21 points. He was joined in double figures by Ryan Madry with 17 and Miller with 16. Jason Mills scored 21 off the bench to pace Augusta State, while had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Now 12-1 on the season, the Braves now head into GSC East Division play. The Braves begin league play Saturday in Pensacola vs. West Florida. Tip time is 1:00 (EST) from Pensacola Junior College.

West Georgia rises to 12th

Carrollton, GA – January 5, 2005 – After opening the season with 12 straight wins, the West Georgia Braves tasted defeat Sunday for the first time with a loss at Augusta State. However, the defeat didn¹t prevent the Braves from making a major climb in the national rankings.

West Georgia Wednesday moved to 12th in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Poll. Now 12-1 on the season, the Braves moved up from their number 16 ranking in the December 21 poll, the last before the holiday break.

The Braves received 89 total points in the poll, conducted among a panel of coaches from each of the nation’s eight regions. UWG’s ranking is its highest since the 2002 team reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. Also, it’s the highest a Braves team has been ranked in the regular season since the 1996-97 season.

West Georgia begins Gulf South Conference East Division play this weekend. Saturday, the Braves travel to Pensacola for a date with West Florida (8-5). Tip time is set for 1:00 (EST), and the game can be heard on WBTR, 92.1 FM.

Braves escape Pensacola with a win

Pensacola, Fla. – January 8, 2005 West Florida gave it a run, but the West Georgia Braves just refused to leave Pensacola without a win Saturday. After UWF’s Maurice Thomas sent the game to overtime with a three-pointer as time expired, the Braves offense kicked into gear, outscoring the Argonauts 19-10 in the extra period for a 100-91 win.

It was a senior laden afternoon for West Georgia, as Majestic Mapp led all scorers with 25, but Darnell Miller contined to write his name in the history books with his second triple-double in the last three contests. The senior from the Bronx, NY, had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in leading the Braves.

The first half was a 20 minute roller coaster ride that ended with West Georgia leading 46-41 at the break.

Darnell Miller shook loose the cobwebs at the free throw line by shooting ten straight free throws in the first half, and he was also friendly dishing out five assists. The Argos countered with Brian Richardson who netted 18 points in the opening period.

The Braves fell behind 26-18 in the first ten minutes as West Florida ruled the boards with a plus four margin. In the final nine minutes of the half, the Braves responded by out rebounding UWF 15-to-7. The rebounding margin gave West Georgia new life and a 46-41 lead at the break.

The second half of Saturday’s game was very similar to the first with a roller coaster ride. The Braves missed seven free-throws in the second stanza, but had a chance to win the game in the final seconds.

But with 20 seconds left, West Florida brought the ball down and passed it around a couple of times before Maurice Thomas hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to send the game to overtime at 81-81.

It was all West Georgia in the extra period as the Braves never trailed. With just over a minute remaining, UWG had the ball with a three-point lead. A West Florida player stripped the ball from Miller, causing a scrum near mid-court. West Georgia’s Antonio Shaw wrestled the ball away and found Mapp wide open for a three-pointer and a six-point lead.

In the final minute, the Argos cut the lead to four, but the Braves stuck their free-throws to preserve the win.

In addition to double figures from Mapp and Miller, Ryan Madry added 20 points, Shaw had 18 and Tamal Forchion collected 13. Miller had his triple-double, but had an all-around day, collecting five steals and two blocks as well.

The Braves will pack up and head to Valdosta tonight to prepare for Monday’s clash with the Blazers. Game time is at 8:00 p.m. Listen to the Braves and Blazers online at www.uwgbraves.com or on B92.1 in the Carroll County area.

Rough going in Valdosta as Braves fall

Valdosta, Ga. – January 10, 2005 – The Complex in Valdosta is a tough place to win for any team. The West Georgia Braves found that out Monday night, falling in a shootout 98-88 to the Valdosta State Blazers.

The evening had the feel of a championship fight at the beginning of the night, with an electric atmosphere on the campus of Valdosta State.

But even with that type of atmosphere, the Braves came out flat at the beginning of both halves and Valdosta took full advantage. VSU forced 18 turnovers on the night, one of the highest totals of the season for West Georgia.

The first half started out in a way that head coach Ed Murphy would never have wanted, but ended on a strong not. The Blazers lept out to a 20-8 lead in the first 10 minutes of the half with center Jon Rogers leading the way. The senior finished the night with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

The Braves came right back with a 23-6 run to take the lead in the final five minutes of the period with a familiar foe for VSU in Darnell Miller. The senior guard, coupled with Majestic Mapp, spearheaded the Braves’ run. The pair combined for 21 points in the half.

But, despite a West Georgia lead, the Blazers’ defensive pressure forced turnovers and gave back the lead to VSU at the break, 40-39.

Out of the locker room, the Blazers took a 55-48 lead out of the blocks, forcing the Braves to play from behind. WUG pulled to within two at 57-55, the closest West Georgia came to Valdosta for the remainder of the contest. Every time the Braves would get close, a Blazer would hit a big shot and push the lead back out.

The Braves had just three players in double figures on the evening, led by Mapp with 24. Miller followed up with 22 and Ryan Murphy had 12.

West Georgia moves to 13-2 on the season and 1-1 in the conference, while Valdosta is now 12-2 and 2-0 in GSC East play. Next up for the Braves is the Montevallo Falcons in a massive matchup Saturday night.

The Bull’s-eye grows as Braves rise to fourth

Carrollton, GA – January 12, 2005 – West Georgia’s Braves have reached a new season high in the national men’s basketball rankings.

The Braves are this week ranked fourth in the NABC Division II Men¹s Basketball Poll. Balloting was conducted among a panel of members of the NABC Division II Congress, representing each of the nation’s eight NCAA Division II regions.

Votes were based on games played through Sunday, January 9, and before the Braves’ Monday loss to Valdosta State.

Leading the weekly poll is Metropolitan (Colo.) State, followed by Virginia Union and Minnesota State-Mankato. Behind the fifth-ranked Braves are Bentley (Mass.), Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Findlay (Ohio), Kennesaw (Ga.) State, Bowie (Md.) State, and Nebraska-Omaha. Central Arkansas, ranked 16th, was the only other GSC school to crack the national rankings.

Of more importance than their national ranking, the Braves are still the top rated team in the South Region of NCAA Division II. Those rankings, also based on games play through last Sunday, are based on a points system and determined by a team’s performance on the court.

Eight schools will qualify for the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament. Three automatic berths are reserved for the champions of league tournaments in the Gulf South, Southern Intercollegiate, and Sunshine State Conference Tournaments. The remaining slots will go to the five highest remaining teams.

Braves climb to seventh in D-II rankings

Carrollton, GA – January 18, 2005 – West Georgia¹s Braves, now owners of a 15-2 record, continue to merit national attention. Despite a 1-1 mark in last week’s play, the Braves fell but three spots in this week’s Division II national rankings.

The Braves, now 15-2 on the season, were ranked seventh in Tuesday’s weekly NABC/Division II Coaches Poll. They were fourth a week ago, with voting coming before Monday’s loss at Valdosta State, However, Saturday’s win over defending GSC champ Montevallo kept UWG in the nation’s Top 10.

West Georgia also remains the highest rated Gulf South Conference teams in the rankings. The only other GSC team ranked is 10th rated Central Arkansas. Also, the Braves are also rated ahead of any team in the South Region of NCAA Division II.

This week’s South Region rankings will be released Wednesday. The Braves were top-rated in the last region poll on January 5, and should remain at or near the top in this weeks’ ranking.

The regional rankings are the ones used by the South Region Advisory Committee to determine which teams get bids to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Automatic berths go to the tournament champions in the Gulf South, SIAC, and Sunshine State Conference. The next five highest rated teams will secure at-large berths for the tourney.

West Georgia returns to action Saturday, welcoming Alabama-Huntsville to the HPE Building. Tip time is set for 7:30 p.m.

Round 1 Goes to West Georgia

Carrollton, Ga. – January 15, 2005 – It was like a heavyweight championship bout in Carrollton Saturday night. Two impressive teams exchanged shot after shot the entire game, but when the dust cleared, the West Georgia Braves had bested the Montevallo Falcons 73-69.

Most will talk about the stars from this game. The toughness of Darnell Miller and Tamal Forchion, or the athleticism of James Hall of Montevallo or even the sharp-shooting of Majestic Mapp will likely be what people talk about.

But it was the play of two unassuming West Georgia players in Rob Neal and Antonio Shaw that was the difference in the game. Shaw shut down Hall late and Neal hit two huge shots early in the second half, giving the Braves a huge momentum swings.

West Georgia came out strong, delivering the first blow in this bout in jumping out to an 18-8 lead in the first six minutes of the game. But, like all good teams, the Falcons didn’t get down and came back swinging. Over the next nine minutes, Hall put his team on his back and spearheaded a 17-7 run to tie the contest at 25.

The teams exchanged buckets throughout the rest of the half and Montevallo led by a point at the break, 34-33.

The see-saw battle continued out of the locker room until the game was tied at 40 with 15:39 left. Montevallo’s D.J. Towns hit a three followed by a layup from Hall and all the momentum was on the purple side of the ball.

In steps Neal and the cries of, “Shooter!” from the Montevallo sideline had no effect as the senior hit two three-pointers in the span of a minute to give the Braves a 47-44 lead and all the momentum.

But the game wasn’t over as neither team could separate itself from the other until the final minute of the contest when West Georgia built a 65-60 lead. The final minutes of the contest was where Shaw’s heroics came out.

The skinny and athletic junior kept Hall at bay over the final five minutes of the game, as the layup with 14:18 left in the contest was his final field goal of the night.

Forchion was the biggest player on this night, pitching a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Miller came close to a double-double with 18 points and nine boards. Mapp was the final Brave in double figures with 16 on the night.

The Braves are now 14-2 on the season and 2-1 in the GSC East while Montevallo falls to 12-4 on the year and 2-1 in conference action.

West Georgia hosts West Alabama Monday night at 7:30 p.m.

Men’s Athletic Spotlight: Tamal Forchion

Carrollton, Ga. – January 21, 2005 – Familiarity is always something people look for in life. Tamal Forchion is no exception to the rule. Forchion became accustomed to playing time and receiving the ball in high school, but at George Washington less playing time and less of the ball became familiarity.

“I came to West Georgia because I wanted a better opportunity to play,” Forchion said, “I saw that Darnell was doing very well down here and called him. He hooked me up with Coach Cooney and the rest is history.”

The senior has been a major part of a historical year already as part of the inside game that has been vital to the Braves’ success this season. Thus far, he is averaging 13.4 points a game, 7 boards and is tied for the team high with three double-doubles.

Coming from the likes of Philadelphia and Washington D.C, one might think that a city-kid like Forchion would have problems adjusting to a slower Carrollton area.

“The biggest difference is the easily accessed distractions in the city. It’s really easy to be much more focused here, but there are really no negatives,” Forchion shared, “But the basketball in the GSC is no different than from the Atlantic-10. I can’t go into a GSC game prepared any less than the A-10. If I do, we play like we did against Valdosta and that can’t happen.”

The 6-6, 252-pound Forchion is a force on the inside and it is almost as if dunking comes natural to him. But, basketball is not his first love.

“I was forced to play basketball,” Forchion said with a smile. “”I didn’t even like basketball when I was 13 years old, I played football. But my uncle said that all my cousins were playing and I was the tallest kid on the block, so I should play. I still can’t really watch the game. I love playing, just not watching.”

The Braves are 15-2 this season and have been an offensive juggernaut, scoring 100 five times and averaging 89.8 points per game. But despite being the No. 7 team in the nation and tops in the South Region, the team has stayed grounded.

“The team as a whole, is the key to our success, everyone gets along,” Forchion shared, “there are really no egos and it’s more like a comfortable family. Plus, for me, I’ve learned that on any given day you can either be the favorite getting beat or the underdog surprising the favorite. With the way NCAA basketball is, underestimation is a bad thing.”

Many athletes are superstitious, and Forchion is no exception. He had the number 14 in middle school and was forced to wear 44 throughout high school.

“I wanted to wear 14 when I got to college, but someone else at George Washington had it,” Forchion said. “Darnell Miller

Another quirk is that he wears a headband at the start of a game, but usually by halftime, the band is gone.

“I like wearing my headband,” Forchion laughed, “And I usually don’t take it off until I’m really into the game. It’s kind of like that is the point that it really becomes tough and I just throw it off in frustration or something.”

But as for now, it’s conference time, so the headband will be coming off quite early from now on.

West Georgia too much for West Alabama

Carrollton, Ga. – January 17, 2005 – Playing West Alabama Monday night, the fourth-ranked West Georgia Braves needed to do one thing, avoid a letdown from an emotional win Saturday night over Montevallo. The Braves did that and more, outgunning the Tigers in a 97-70 conference win.

“Last year, we had an emotional game against Valdosta and came out mentally unprepared for West Florida,” said head coach Ed Murphy. “But tonight, the guys mature and stepped up to play a great game against a good team.”

The first four minutes of the contest were a feeling out process, with one lead change and four ties. But when Majestic Mapp’s layup fell in at the 14:16 mark, giving the Braves a 13-9 lead, the rout was on.

For the rest of the half, the Braves continuously took the Tigers to the hole, collecting eight baskets near the hoop as West Alabama could do nothing to stop West Georgia as well as cold not score.

The Braves shot 48 percent from the field in the opening half and 75 percent from the line, while holding the Tigers to just 25 percent shooting. The offensive flurry gave West Georgia a 54-25 lead at the break.

“We told them that even though we played well in the first half, we could not let up in the second,” Murphy said. “And they responded well.”

In the second half, it was more of the same as the Braves kept the lead at no less than 22 points for the entire period. Even when Murphy put in his backups at the 5:33 mark, they kept the lead intact.

Six Braves scored in double figures on the night, led by 20 from Mapp. Darnell Miller and Ryan Madry followed up with 16 and Tamal Forchion added 14. Antonio Shaw and Chris Burras had 11 and 10, respectively, and Burras collected his third double-double of the season with 15 rebounds.

West Georgia is now 15-2 on the season and 3-1 in conference action while the Tigers fall to 9-6 on the year and 2-2 in the GSC East.

Braves remain atop region standings

Carrollton, GA – January 15, 2005 – One day after finding themselves ranked seventh in the nation in Division II basketball, the West Georgia Braves have received even better news.

West Georgia Wednesday remained the atop the NCAA Division II South Region rankings in men’s basketball. The region rankings are the main tool used by the South Region Advisory Committee to determine which teams receive bids to the NCAA II Tournament in March.

The Braves remained atop the rankings, despite their January 10 lost at Valdosta. They have three-of-four games since standing atop the previous ranking on January 5.

Beyond the Braves, this week’s poll is dominated by teams from the GSC, which claimed seven of ten spots. Florida Gulf Coast, an independent, is second, followed by Lynn of the Sunshine State Conference. The next four teams in the region are all from the GSC: Arkansas-Monticello, Central Arkansas, Montevallo, and Valdosta State. Barry (SSC) is rated eighth, followed two more GSC teams as Christian Brothers and Ouachita Baptist are ninth and tenth, respectively.

West Georgia next puts its ranking on the line Saturday, hosting Alabama Huntsville. Tip time is set for 7:30 in the HPE Building on the UWG campus.

West Georgia continues rolling with win over UAH

Carrollton, Ga. – January 22, 2005 – It’s always nice to be at home, especially for the West Georgia Braves, who improved to 8-0 at home on the year Saturday night with a 77-63 win over the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. But the game was much closer than the score would indicate.

With 3:58 left in the Saturday’s contest, the Braves clung to a 64-59 lead with the Chargers working their Princeton offense for all its worth. But a three-pointer from UWG senior guard Ryan Madry gave his team some breathing room and his teammates took over from there.

UAH came out firing, forcing their way early with a 5-0 lead 45 seconds into the contest. The Chargers held the lead for the majority of the first half, as the Braves’ first lead of the game came on a three-pointer from Rob Neal at the 8:55 point.

The final eight minutes of the period featured two runs, with the Braves taking the first nod. A Madry jumper and a Tamal Forchion layup gave the Braves a five-point lead at 30-25 with 3:42 left in the half. Then it rained threes as the Chargers hit three from beyond the arc in the final three minutes to give UAH a 36-32 lead heading into the locker room.

The second half was more of the same as Huntsville built an eight-point lead in the first two minutes of the period on a pair of backdoor layups.

But the Braves came back on the back of good free-throw shooting, something that had escaped UWG for much of the season. The teams exchanged leads over the next five minutes before a pair of baskets from Neal. Neal’s three-pointer at the 9:22 point gave the Braves the lead for good at 53-50.

But the game was far from over, as the Chargers hung around, staying within striking distance until Madry’s three-pointer with 3:50 left. Over the final four minutes, the Braves forced UAH to play their game and built the lead to 14 at the final buzzer.

Four Braves finished in double figures, led by Darnell Miller with 15 points and eight assists. Madry followed with 13 and Majestic Mapp added 12. Chris Burras collected his fourth double-double of the season, hitting for 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Antonio Shaw was also big in the contest with eight points, 10 rebounds and two big steals late in the game.

West Georgia faces off against North Alabama Monday night in a battle of teams near the top of the GSC East.

Braves explode through UNA, 109-88

Carrollton, Ga. – January 24, 2005 – Monday night’s game between the North Alabama Lions and West Georgia Braves was a tennis-style match for 25 minutes. But the ball and the momentum went back to the Braves with 15:01 left and never went forth to the Lions as UWG lambasted UNA 109-88 in front of 950 raucous fans.

West Georgia had a huge night from each of its three guards, led by Ryan Madry’s 28 points. Darnell Miller had his third double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 assists and Majestic Mapp hit for 23 points and eight assists.

The Lions matched West Georgia shot-for-shot over the first 15 minutes of the game. UNA hit six three-pointers over that stretch, keeping the game close. At the 5:32 point, Javier Palacios hit a three for North Alabama to give the Lions a 34-33 lead.

Seven seconds later, Tamal Forchion jumped ahead of the pack and threw down a dunk that got the Braves rolling. Less than three minutes later, North Alabama was staring into the face of a 43-34 deficit.

But the Lions responded, going on an 8-0 run of their own to close out the half with the Braves clinging to a 44-42 lead.

In the second half, the Braves jumped out to a five point lead in the first two minutes before UNA came right back and came within two at 65-63 with 11:24 left in the contest.

Then came the explosion.

West Georgia’s offense came alive over the next 5:33, outscoring the Lions 24-8 over that span. The offensive outburst didn’t stop there, and seemingly calmed down after a massive Forchion dunk with 3:55 left made the score 98-77. That dunk sent the crowd into a frenzy and UWG cruised from there on.

Forchion had 15 points and nine rebounds on the night and Chris Burras added 10 points to add to the three guards’ totals.

The Braves are now 17-2 on the season and 5-1 in conference action. West Georgia’s next contest is Saturday night in Harrogate, Tenn., as the Braves face Lincoln Memorial.

Braves move to fifth in national poll

Carrollton, GA – Janaury 25, 2005 – After an unbeaten week on the floor, the West Georgia Braves took a step forward Tuesday in the national rankings. West Georgia moved to fifth nationally in the weekly NABC Division II Coaches Poll. A week ago the Braves were seventh, a drop of three spots from the previous week.

Since a January 10 loss at Valdosta State, West Georgia has rolled off four straight wins to move to 17-2 on the season. Their record is the best for a West Georgia team through 19 games in the 1986-87 team, a squad that captured both the GSC regular season and tournament titles.

West Georgia is the only Gulf South Conference team listed in this week’s poll. Central Arkansas, 10th a week ago, dropped from the rankings following a pair of losses. Arkansas-Monticello, the division leader in the GSC West, received votes in this week’s balloting from the national coaches panel. However, the Boll Weevils did not garner enough to support to crack the Top 25.

Beyond their national rankings, West Georgia hopes to continue its success in the regional rankings. The Braves, number one a week ago, will learn their fate there tomorrow when the NCAA Division II South Region Ranking is released.

West Georgia returns to action Saturday with a GSC East road game at Lincoln Memorial. Tip time is set for 8:00 at Turner Arena in Harrogate, Tenn. The game can be heard on WBTR, 92.1-FM, and on-line at uwgbraves.com.


NABC/Division II Coaches Poll (January 25, 2005)

Record Points Previous
1. Virginia Union (5) 13-1 189 2

2. Metropolitan State, Colo. (2) 15-1 175 1

3. Bentley. Mass. 18-2 174 4

4. Minnesota State, Mankato 18-2 172 3

5. West Georgia 16-2 160 7

6. Findlay, Ohio (1) 16-2 146 6

7. Southern Illinois Edwardsville 16-3 143 5

8. Seattle Pacific, Wash. 14-3 126 11

9. Texas A&M-Commerce; 15-3 122 13

10. Central Missouri State 14-3 111 21

11. Fort Lewis, Colo. 13-2 109 20

12. Edinboro, Pa. 15-2 105 15

13. (tie) Bowie State, Md. 14-2 100 12
(tie) Indiana, Pa. 15-3 100 8

15. South Carolina Upstate 14-3 94 15

16. Kennesaw State, Ga. 13-3 77 9

17. Hawaii-Hilo 18-2 71 24

18. Florida Gulf Coast 15-4 63 NR

19. Pittsburg State, Kan. 14-3 53 14

20. Nebraska-Omaha 15-3 47 20

21. Lynn, Fla. 14-3 43 NR

22. Southwestern Oklahoma State 14-3 37 17

23. South Dakota 15-3 34 18

24. Southern Indiana 13-4 31 NR

25. Southern New Hampshire 14-3 23 NR

Others receiving votes: Western Washington 22, Central Arkansas 18, Cal State Bakersfield 12, North Dakota 12, Gannon (Pa.) 11, Saint Anselm (N.H.) 8, Grand Valley State (Mich.) 5, Ferris State (Mich.) 3, Arkansas-Monticello 2, Shippensburg (Pa.) 2.

Braves retain lead in region standings

Carrollton, GA – January 26, 2005 – Winners of four straight games, the West Georgia Braves continue to set the pace in the South Region of NCAA Division II. The Braves are again the top team in the region rankings, released Wednesday by the NCAA South Region Advisory Committee.

West Georgia’s is ranked as the top team in the South for the third straight ratings period. The Braves claimed the top spot in the first weekly poll on January 5, and remained there since.

The regional rankings are used by the committee to select at-large teams for the NCAA Tournament. Automatic tourney berths go to the champions of the region’s three conferences: Gulf South, Sunshine State, and Southern Intercollegiate. The five highest rated remaining teams will earn invitations to the South Region Tournament.

The remainder of the South Region Top 10 is headed by Florida Gulf Coast and Lynn (Fla.). Spots four through six are claimed by a trio of GSC schools: Arkansas-Monticello, Valdosta State,

Braves blast Lincoln Memorial

Harrogate, TN. – January 29, 2005 – Lincoln Memorial came out fired up to play the fifth ranked Division II team in the land. But the West Georgia Braves turned up the juice and took down the Railsplitters 98-75 Saturday night in Harrogate, TN.

The Braves and Railsplitters came out firing, exchanging baskets in the first few minutes of the contest. At the 17:09 point, Stevie Aldridge hit a three pointer to put LMU up 7-6.

That was the last time Lincoln would be close to a lead as the Braves went on a 30-9 run over the next nine minutes to take a commanding lead at 37-18. West Georgia continued the offensive explosions until halftime, leading 53-30 at the break.

“We came out playing like a championship team,” said head coach Ed Murphy. “We had good concentration and hit our shots at a time of year where we could come out a little rusty.”

As a team, the Braves shot 61 percent from the field in the opening half, making just three treys in the first 20 minutes. Tamal Forchion led the effort in the period with 12 points and six rebounds, followed by Majestic Mapp with 10.

In the second half, the Braves continued to pour on the offense, with Darnell Miller at the helm. The senior collected his third triple-double of the season, scoring 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

West Georgia built the lead out to nearly 40 points before Murphy called off the dogs. Against the Braves’ walk-ons, the Railsplitters pulled to within 23 at 98-75 at the final horn.

Forchion had his fifth double-double on the night, collecting 22 points and 10 rebounds, shoot. Chris Burras had 21 points and nine rebounds and Mapp added 15 on the evening. Rob Neal hit three-of-seven from beyond the arc and ended up with 11 points.

The Braves finish the first half of the conference schedule at 6-1 in the GSC East and 18-2 overall. LMU is 4-16 on the year and 2-of-5 in the conference. Next up for West Georgia is a trip to powerful Montevallo next Saturday night.

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