There was some shoving after the game but nothing too serious as the Statesmen enjoyed their fifth consecutive win and pushed their record instead to a 13-2 mark with a 6-1 record in Gulf South Conference action. North Alabama fell to 9-6 with a 3-4 mark in GSC play.
Holding on to a 70-69 lead with 3:25 left in regulation, it was the Statesmen's defensive effort that made the difference. The Statesmen were able to stop the Lions on eight of their last nine possessions and in the process they increased their lead to 81-71 with a 1:01 remaining in the game.
Wes Long made a free throw for UNA, but a free throw from Cornell Knight and a layup from Mike Washington would be the last points scored in the game as Delta State secured its 84-72 win.
"The score was 70-69 and we got four consecutive stops at that point and obviously that's how you win games like this on the defensive end,” Statesmen head coach Jim Boone said. “We had some foul trouble issues, but I thought the guys handled that well. We had some guys come off the bench and give us some really good minutes tonight.”
The Statesmen struggled with the North Alabama full court trap, which resulted in some good things for the Lions.
"Normally it will be really tough to win a game with 17 turnovers, particularly when those 17 turnovers lead to 25 points for your opponent,” Boone said. “However in this case our defense was so good in the half court area that it afforded us the opportunity to overcome that.
"I was really impressed with North Alabama. Clearly they are a well coached team. They threw some things at us tonight that we didn't handle very well. To be able to get through that and weather the storm and get a win is awesome. Welcome to the Gulf South Conference ‘cause that's how every game is," Boone added.
Defensively, the Statesmen held the Lions to 36.8 percent shooting from the floor and 25.9 percent shooting from three.
The Statesmen held a slight edge in points in the paint with a 46-40 advantage.
On the night, Washington and Willie Readus played well inside. Boone was particularly pleased with the play of Washington.
"Mike is a terrific young man and he has been working his tail off to get better,” Boone said. “He did a good job not only on the offensive end, but running the floor and defensively he did a terrific job on some contested threes and at the end we did a lot of switching. He did a great job there.”
Washington finished the night with 19 points. eight rebounds and three blocks. Devin Schmidt led the Statesmen in scoring and rebounds with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Readus scored 18 points, Jack Madgen had 10 points and Knight chipped in with nine points.
Bruce Adams led UNA with 16 points.
Delta State hosts the Bulldogs of Union University at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Walter Sillers Coliseum.