It was a snowy day outside in Rome, Georgia, but inside the Winthrop-King Centre, Shorter led for over 35 minutes, before falling to West Florida in overtime, 93-89.
Phil Taylor led Shorter with 24 points in the loss. Eric Ross scored 17, while also pulling down 16 rebounds. Potter and Bennett also scored in double figures, with 16 and 10 points respectively.
The duo of Ross and Bennett scored the Hawks first 12 points in a five-minute span, helping the host team jump out to a slim four-point lead over the visiting Argonauts.
West Florida tied the game at 15, but Yephnick Adelphonse and Taylor answered with back-to-back three pointers, putting Shorter up 21-15.
When the Argos tied the game at 21, Cole Birchfield hit a three-pointer, preventing the West Florida from taking the lead.
UWF would take the lead on two occasions in the opening half, first with 6:45 to play, and again two minutes later, but each time the Hawks converted from beyond the arc to retake the lead.
Potter scored five straight points to put the Hawks up four, while Phil Taylor contributed a pair of free throws to extend the Hawks advantage to six.
The Argos pulled within three, but three free throws by Potter, along with Taylor’s layup at the buzzer, gave Shorter a 48-40 halftime lead.
Three-pointers were the key to Shorter’s success in the first half, as the team made 5 of its 12 attempts from deep. The Argonauts attempted only half as many threes, hitting one.
The two squads shot nearly identical percentages over the first 20 minutes. The Hawks went 17 of 33 from the field, while West Florida made one less attempt, shooting 16 of 33 for the half.
In the final half, Taylor gave Shorter its first double-digit lead of the game, 52-40, but the Argonauts stormed back, making it a one-possession game with 14 minutes to play.
Adelphonse and Taylor scored to push the Hawks advantage to five, but West Florida continued to fight, and although the Argos could not take the lead, they made it a one-possession game multiple times.
With less than four minutes to play, and the momentum on UWF’s side, Ross scored his 17th point of the night on a dunk off a pass from Taylor, which swung the momentum back to Shorter.
The momentum swing did not last long as the Argos tied the game at 82, and over the final 1:11, neither team scored, and the contest went into overtime.
In OT, Taylor and the Hawks struck first; as the senior’s layup gave Shorter an 84-82 lead, but that would be the only field goal the Hawks would manage during the five-minute period.
Taylor hit five free throws, including two with 16 seconds left, which made it a 91-89 score in favor of West Florida.
The Argonauts took a four-point lead, 93-89, and denied Potter’s three-pointer with time winding down, holding on for the victory.
West Florida shot 50.0% for the game, while the Hawks hit 46.7% of their attempts. The Argos held a slim 42-38 rebounding advantage and shot nine more free throws than Shorter.
The Hawks will play at home for the last time until January 21, when Valdosta State visits Rome on Monday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.