Florence, Ala. —
Blazers fall 97-69 at North Alabama
Valdosta State struggled shooting the ball as the Blazers fell 97-69 to North Alabama Thursday evening in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at Flowers Hall.
VSU (9-2, 3-2) scored on its first field goal attempt of the night, a jumper by Colin Cook, but its shooting troubles commenced immediately afterwards as the Blazers missed their next three shots and eight out of their next 10 while falling behind by 14, at 21-7, less than seven minutes into the game.
North Alabama (9-4, 3-2) also struggled in the early going, as it missed seven of its first eight field goal tries, but soon found its range as the Lions made five out of their next six attempts and also connected on six free throw attempts to build the early double digit lead.
After the slow start, Valdosta State briefly pulled back to within 10 points, but the shooting struggles continued as the Lions responded with a 9-1 run over a two minute span to build their largest lead of the first half at 39-19 with 6:21 to play in the frame.
VSU got no closer than 12 points the remainder of the half before settling for a 50-36 deficit at the intermission.
The Blazers made three of their first five shots in the second half to briefly pull within 11 points, at 52-41, but got no closer as the shooting woes continued.
After the fast start to the final 20 minutes of the game, Valdosta State missed 14 of its next 17 attempts to fall behind by 22 points with just under nine minutes remaining.
VSU finally put together its first back-to-back buckets as Jeremy McKay hit a lay-up and Blake Justice a three-pointer, and the Blazers pulled to within 16 points on three different occasions in the next four minutes of action, only to have North Alabama score the next 12 points of the game. Sam Fleischman gave the Lions their largest lead with a three-pointer that made the score 97-68 with 1:08 to go.
Justice had 24 points and made eight of his 15 field goal attempts to lead the Blazers in the game while David Murray recorded his fifth double-double of the season by finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Jalen Crawford also scored in double figures with 16.
Valdosta State shot just 32.9 percent from the floor in the game as it made 23-of-70 field goal attempts and was out-rebounded 57-42.
Calvin Dade led UNA with 24 points and 14 rebounds while Rashaun Claiborne added 18, Wes Long 14 and Bruce Adams 12. The Lions connected on 40-of-85 field goal attempts to shoot 47.1 percent and committed just 10 turnovers, to 14 by VSU.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday afternoon when it travels to Jackson, Tenn. to face Union at 5 p.m. Eastern.