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February 16, 2014

VSU earns split against Union

VALDOSTA — After giving up an eight-point lead going into the second half, the Valdosta State Blazers rallied back to defeat the Union Bulldogs at The Complex 66-63 on Saturday night.

Led by Colin Cook’s 17 points, the Blazers fought back from a six-point deficit to regain the lead with 3 minutes left in the game.

“They went on a big run and our guys didn’t fold. We just dug in, got some good stops, made some critical free throws down the stretch,” said Blazer coach Mike Helfer.

David Murray tied the game with a free throw before making his second, which gave the Blazers a 62-61 lead as the game drew to a close.

The Blazers shot 33.8 percent from the field but were helped out tremendously by their 80 percent from the free throw line.

“Every GSC win feels good. It was a great crowd and it was nice to play well at home and get the win,” said Helfer.

Murray and Larry Stone added 10 points a piece, while Jeremy McKay scored 11 for the Blazers.

Union was led by Ashanti Day with 18 points and Corieon Pearson added 13 as Union fell to 11-11 (7-9 in the Gulf South Conference). The Blazers moved to 13-8 and 7-8.

On Monday, the Blazers will travel to take on West Florida, a game rescheduled due to hazardous weather in January. Helfer acknowledged the team’s woes to make baskets and vowed to work on it in the short span before the game.

“We have to work on getting our shots to go through the basket. We haven’t been able to do that. We’re going to keep working on it and make good baskets, and see how it turns out,” said Helfer.

Union women    58

Valdosta State    49

Squandering a 26-24 lead after halftime, the Blazers were unable to finish. Holding the Blazers without a score from the field for a 10-minute stretch in the second half, the Bulldogs were able to take advantage of their scoring opportunities.

“I think we have to learn how to make a few shots down the stretch. We went a whole 10 minutes without scoring. I think we did a tremendous job playing defense for about 35 minutes, but it was clear the fatigue factor came to play,” said coach Kiley Hill.

While Kourtnee Williams led the team with 17 points, no other Blazer scored more than five points outside of Reshaundra Owens’ 11 points and the seven points added by April Thomas. The Blazers shot 42.3 percent in the first half, but struggled in the second, only making 25.9 percent of their shots.

“We had open looks but did not make all the shots we needed. They (Bulldogs) came out right at the half and had a spark. We did not give up though. They found a way to win and that’s why their the number two team,” said Hill.

Leading the Bulldogs was Amy Philamlee with 14 points. The game featured seven lead changes and was tied five times.

The Bulldogs moved to 17-5 (12-4 GSC) on the season, while the Blazers fell to 10-11 (5-10 GSC).

The Blazers will travel to Pensacola, Fla., to take on the West Florida Argonauts on Monday.

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