Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 17, 2014

Blazer basketball gets W over UWG

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State used a strong second half to defeat West Georgia 72-64 in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at The Coliseum Thursday evening.

Valdosta State (10-3, 4-3) got off to a fast start behind the hot shooting hand of Blake Justice. After the Blazers missed their first two shots of the game, Justice connected on a jumper and a pair of three-pointers for the first eight VSU points of the game. After jumper by Jalen Crawford and a three by Jeremy McKay, Justice added a lay-up to give VSU a 15-9 lead seven minutes into the game.

The hot early shooting, which saw Valdosta State connect on six of its first 12 field goals, quickly evaporated as the Blazers missed their next four shots and scored on just four free throws over the next five minutes to allow West Georgia (10-6, 3-5) to grab a 20-19 advantage.

Crawford eventually ended the shooting slump with a three-pointer with 7:55 to go in the first half and the next three minutes of the game featured three lead changes and four ties before West Georgia finished the half on a 6-3 run to take a 34-31 halftime lead.

Valdosta State opened the second half on a 10-2 run to regain the lead. David Murray opened the frame with a three-pointer before Justice also connected on a trifecta. McKay added a pair of lay-ups, the second coming with 16:34 to go in the game that put the Blazers in front 41-36 and forced a UWG timeout.

However, much like the first half, the hot start was short lived as VSU missed five of its next six field goals and managed just three points over the next six minutes. However, the Wolves weren't much better shooting the ball as they made just two of their seven attempts during the span to allow the Blazers to maintain their lead.

Valdosta State shook off the scoring drought as it made its next six shots to race out to its largest lead of the game at 58-50. Crawford opened the run with a lay-up before, after a Taylor Cochran successful attempt for West Georgia, Justice hit a lay-up and assisted on a Colin Cook basket. UWG kept the game close as it made its next attempts, but Crawford scored on a three-point play and Justice hit a three-pointer to give the Blazers their eight-point lead with 8:14 to go in the contest.

The Blazers made just two field goals the remainder of the game, but hit 10 of 13 free throws to seal the victory.

Justice finished the game with a game-high 25 points as he made eight of his 11 field goals, including four-of-six from beyond the three-point line. McKay added 18 points and Crawford 17 on six-of-14 shooting. Murray registered his 10th game of the year with double-digit rebounds as he pulled down a career-high 14 in the game, including 13 defensive boards, to go along with seven points.

After shooting less an than 33 percent from the field in each of its last three road games, Valdosta State made 23-of-50 against West Georgia to shoot 46.0 percent from the field. VSU was especially successful from the field in the second half as it made 13-of-25 from the field in the frame to shoot 52.0 percent. The Blazers also owned a 44-36 advantage in rebounding.

Phillip Flowers led UWG with 18 points while Zach Taulien added 12. Deonta Stocks, the Wolves' leading scorer entering the contest at 21.7 points per game, scored 10 points, but made just two-of-15 field goal attempts.

UWG shot 33.3 percent from the floor in the game as it made 21-of-63 field goal attempts.

Valdosta State remains on the road as it travels to Rome, Ga. for a Gulf South Conference game against Shorter on Saturday. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.

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