Valdosta Daily Times

February 28, 2014

Blazers fall 72-57 to No. 25 Delta State

Women bested by No. 17 Delta State

Staff Reports
The Valdosta Daily Times

CLEVELAND, Miss. —  No. 25 Delta State used a 27-4 second half run to defeat Valdosta State 72-57 in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at Sillers Coliseum Thursday evening.

Valdosta State (15-10, 9-10) struggled shooting the ball early in the game as it made just four of its first 20 field goal attempts while falling behind by as much seven during the first 11 minutes of play. After Blake Justice scored on a jumper to open the scoring in the game, VSU did not score another point for the next six minutes while Delta State (23-4, 16-3) built a 9-2 advantage with 14:03 to play in the first half.

The Statesmen maintained a six-point lead for the next five minute before VSU put together an 10-0 run to regain the lead at 21-17 at the 4:58 mark of the first half. Larry Stone spurred the run as he scored on a lay-up and it a three-pointer to even the game before Jeremy McKay reestablished a Blazer advantage with a jumper. Jalen Craword closed out the spurt with a jumper.

After missing all four of its shots and committing three turnovers during the Valdosta State run, DSU scored four straight points to once again tie the game, but continued its struggles over the remainder of the half as it missed six of its final seven shots. The Blazers took advantage and got two Crawford free throws with no time left on the clock to take a 28-26 halftime lead.

After hitting just 10 of its 32 shots in the first half, Valdosta State found its range early in the second half as it made seven of its first 10 attempts to build a seven-point advantage less than six minutes into the frame. Four different Blazers scored during the span, led by six points by McKay. Crawford closed out the 14-9 spurt by the Blazers with a lay-up off a steal by McKay to give VSU a 42-35 advantage with 14:40 to play in the contest.

Delta State responded with the next 11 points of the game to once again take the lead. McKay broke the Statesmen streak with a basket, but DSU went on to score the next 11 points to build a double-digit advantage at 57-44.

Valdosta State got no closer than 11 the rest of the game while DSU built a lead as large as 72-54.

McKay led Valdosta State with 19 points while Stone had 13 and Crawford 10. The Blazers made 23-of-67 field goals to shoot 34.3 percent from the floor in the game while also making only seven-of-16 free throws.

Zelvin Smith scored 16 points to lead Delta State while Cornell Knight and Jack Madgen tallied 15 each and Willie Readus finished with 14 to go along with 12 rebounds. The Statesmen shot 41.8 percent from the floor and owned a 48-34 advantage in rebounding in the game.

Valdosta State closes out its 2013-14 regular season Saturday at 5 p.m. as it plays at Christian Brothers.

The Valdosta State Lady Blazers put up a strong fight and hung around with the 17th ranked Delta State Lady Statesmen for a majority of the contest, but an upset was not to be had, as DSU ran away with the game late to earn a 68-43 over the Lady Blazers at Sillers Coliseum on Thursday night in Cleveland, Miss..

The win dropped the Lady Blazers to 11-14 overall and 6-13 in league play, while the Lady Statesmen improved to 21-4, 15-3 in the Gulf South Conference.

In a contest between two of the league's top defensive teams, points were scarce in the early minutes. Neither team was able to find the basket for nearly two minutes, until DSU guard Chelcey Rhodes connected from long range to open up the scoring and a 3-0 lead for the Lady Statesmen.

For the ensuing five minute span, Delta State added an additional six points to take a 9-0 lead. Although Valdosta State did not score in the first 6:51 of the contest, Kourtnee Williams broke the seal with a three ball which sparked a 7-0 run for the Lady Blazers that spanned less than two minutes and pulled VSU to within two points at the 11:17 mark.

Delta State diluted their slow start in the following seven minutes with a stretch of play that included a 13-3 run by the Lady Statesmen. The DSU surge was fueled by Seneca Walton, who scored all eight of her first half points during the run.

Walton led the offensive charge for DSU with 18 points on the night. The forward finished 8-for-9, with an 88.9 percent shooting performance from the field.

The Lady Blazers made a push late in the first half that was capped off with a Reshaundra Owens layup during the final minute to pull to within seven at 21-28, but Kenisha Henry drew a foul with just three seconds remaining in the period and hit both free throws to give DSU a 30-21 advantage at intermission.

Delta State's halftime lead resulted in large part from a highly efficient 54.5 percent shooting effort from the field in the first frame. In contrast, Valdosta State hit 36 percent of their attempts from the floor.

Two free throws by Williams within the first minute of the second half cut DSU's lead back to seven, and the two teams traded baskets for the next nine minutes until a series of unusual dead ball fouls took place at the 10:20 mark.

With Seneca Walton at the line, Brooke Satterfield was charged with a flagrant foul on a box out attempt as her hand made what appeared to be inadvertant contact with the face of a Lady Statesman player. Moments later, Kiley Hill was charged with a technical foul as he expressed his disagreement with the call. The series of events gave the Lady Statesmen six straight free throw attempts, all of which were successful, and allowed DSU to open up a 20 point lead that they would not relinquish for the remainder of the night.

Along with a 55.8 shooting night, a big difference maker in the contest was free throw shooting. From the line, the Lady Statesmen hit 19 of their 23 attempts from the free throw line. Valdosta State was only able to connect five of their 12 looks from the stripe.

Williams teamed up with Amy Duke for 20 of Valdosta State's 43 points, as each connected for 10 points.

Valdosta State continues the daunting road trip with a journey up to Memphis, Tenn. for the final regular season game against Christian Brothers at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.