The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta State overcame a slow shooting start to defeat Trinity Baptist 97-58 in non-conference men's basketball action at The Complex Monday evening.
The Blazers (1-0) hit just three of the their first 17 field goal attempts to open the game, including just one of eight three-pointers during the first 12 minutes of play, during which they trailed throughout.
Free throws kept VSU in the game during the span as it made nine out of 14 attempts, but Trinity Baptist (0-3) was able to take advantage as it built a lead as high as 19-14 with 8:57 to play in the first half before Valdosta State came storming back.
With VSU down 19-16 with less than eight minutes to play, Jalen Crawford got the Blazers back on track as he scored on a fastbreak lay-up and threw down a dunk off an alley-oop from Larry Stone.
After five quick points from TBC, Blake Justice tied the game as he connected on three-pointers on back-to-back trips down the floor, only to have the Eagles once again run out to a six point lead, at 32-26 with 3:20 remaining till the intermission.
The remainder of the half belonged to the Blazers as Justice once again connected on back-to-back trifectas and added two free throws before Crawford also made a three, that gave VSU its first lead at 37-34.
A James Warrick bucket just before the halftime buzzer pulled the Eagles to within 37-36 at the break.
After the 3-of-17 start, Valdosta State made seven of its final 11 first half shots and kept the hot hand during the second half when the Blazers made 20-of-34 attempts, including 7-of-11 three-pointers.
VSU opened the second half on a 12-0 run and, after the Eagles pulled back to within 55-49 with 12:53 to play, responded with a 35-4 run over the next nine minutes to seal the victory.
The Valdosta State advantage reached as high as 41 points on two different occasions in the closing minutes.
Valdosta State forced 18 Trinity Baptist turnovers in the game that led to a 29-11 advantage in points off turnvoers and also owned a 32-22 advantage in points in the paint.
Six different Blazers scored in double figures in the game, led by Justice with 19 on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the three-point line. David Murray, who recorded 10 rebounds as well, and Crawford added 17 each and Stone had 13, to go along with five assists and just two turnovers.
Jarod Leonard also had a double-double as he finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds while Jeremy McKay added 10 points.
On the game, Valdosta State shot 48.4 percent as it made 30-of-62 field goals, including 13-of-27 three-pointers, to go along with a 24-of-37 night from the free throw line.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday when it hosts the Comfort Suites Classic at The Complex.
VSU will play Florida Memorial at 8 p.m. and Carver at 4 p.m.