Valdosta Daily Times

January 11, 2013

Blazers fall to West Georgia, 72-64

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

CARROLLTON — Valdosta State’s men’s basketball team fell 72-64 to West Georgia on Thursday night in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action.

Josh Sparks blocked eight shots to become Valdosta State’s career blocks leader, but the defensive effort was not enough to overcome a cold shooting night for the Blazers.

With the win, West Georgia improved to 6-6 overall and 2-2 in GSC play. Valdosta State fell to 9-4 and 1-4 in league action.

Sparks finished the game with 199 career blocks, surpassing the old VSU record of 195 held by Jon Rogers. The senior has blocked 52 shots in 13 games this year. It was the fourth time this year that Sparks had at least seven blocks.

The Blazers led throughout the first half, as they used a bevy of early fouls by the Wolves to build a double digit lead less than seven minutes into the game. UWG committed eight fouls before the second media timeout of the game, which allowed Valdosta State to connect on 8 of 13 free throws during that span. David Murray and Shaquille Harris added a pair of field goals each, while James Anacreon added a lay-up with 12:02 to play that gave VSU a 20-7 lead.

West Georgia responded with a 12-5 run over the next seven minutes to close to within 25-19. The Wolves connected on four straight field goals during the run, while Valdosta State connected on just 2 of 7 shots and turned the ball over four times.

The Blazers' scoring woes continued the remainder of the half, as they scored just four points over the final five minutes of play, but maintained their lead at halftime, 29-28.

West Georgia scored the first eight points of the second half to extend its run to 29-9 over a span of 14:20 of game play. Harris eventually ended the drought for the Blazers with a jumper in the lane, then after a three-point play by UWG's Sean Boston, Murray hit a pair of lay-ups to close VSU back to within two points.

Valdosta State missed its next five shots, which helped the Wolves rebuild a seven-point advantage. Quincy Hill’s three-pointer with 6:01 to play gave West Georgia a 63-51 lead.

The Blazers got no closer than seven points the rest of the game. They missed 10 of their final 16 shots.

VSU made just 23 of 64 shots (35.9 percent) in the game, and also missed 12 of 24 free throws. The Blazers also committed 20 turnovers.

Anacreon led Valdosta State with 22 points. Harris had 12 points and Murray added 11. Sparks added eight points and a career-high 18 rebounds to go along with his eight blocks.

West Georgia also struggled shooting the ball, making only 21 of 68 shots, but connected on eight three-pointers and made 20 of 31 free throws.

Boston had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead UWG. Hill added 12 points and Thomas Higginbotham had 11.