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January 25, 2014

VSU men, women eye return of home success

VALDOSTA — Just two days after suffering the first losses at The Complex this season Valdosta State basketball looks to begin a new winning streak when Gulf South Conference rival Christian Brothers comes to town.

The VSU women trailed throughout most of its contest with the No. 10 Statesmen on Thursday.

Delta State stars Seneca Walton and Chelsey Rhodes combined for 44 points, but due to some hot shooting from Bainbridge native April Thomas, the Blazers had a chance to send the game into overtime with less than 15 seconds on the clock. Unfortunately, Reshauda Owens was fouled and missed both free throws which sealed the 65-61 defeat.

While the women could not complete the comeback in the first game, VSU's men could not hold the lead in the second game against No. 20 Delta State.

The Blazers held their own against the Statesmen, leading the talented team for a majority of the game, but freshman Devin Schidmt matched his career high with 24 points and Delta State held VSU to 1-8 shooting from the field in the game's final four and a half minutes to pull out a 72-68 victory.

Tonight, both teams will try to bounce back quickly against their surprisingly tough Christian Brother counterparts.

It should come to no surprise how the CBU women will play tonight. Defensively, Christian Brothers is going to make it tough for VSU to go inside. The Bucs lead the GSC with 3.8 blocks per game.

On offense, the Blazers will be tasked with trying to stop the GSC's third leading scorer at 16.3 points per game, Breanna Ridgell.

Ridgell is such a hard assignment defensively because not only is she shooting 47.5 percent from the field, she has also sank 41 of 45 free throw attempts this season.

Both the Blazers and Bucs enter tonight at 9-6 with the winner gaining the upper hand in the GSC standings.

Christian Brothers' men come into The Complex on a bit of a roll in GSC play after getting off to a tough start.

The Bucs lost the first three games of their GSC schedule before winning five of the next six contests including an 84-79 win against West Florida on Thursday.

Christian Brothers are unlike most teams in one glaring way; the Bucs run a six-man rotation most of the time.

Four of Christian Brothers' five starters average more than 35 minutes a game. For comparison, Justice Blake averages the most minutes for VSU at 32.1 minutes per game.

In Thursday's win against West Florida, two of the Bucs' starters played the entire 40 minutes while two others played 39 and 38 minutes, respectively.

But the players Christian Brothers do put out there play well on both sides of the ball. The Bucs are holding opposing teams to just 29.8 percent from the field while hitting an average of nine 3-pointers a game.

Christian Brothers' leading scorer, Trey Casey, has made 95 3-pointers this season alone at a 44.2 percent clip. Casey scored a career high 32 points in a win against Union just nine days before tonight so containing Casey should be VSU's top priority.

Blazer Nation invites fans to join the team in their efforts to raise awareness for breast cancer by wearing pink tonight for the season's annual Pink Out game. The first game tips off at 6 p.m.

Silent auctions, raffles, and more will be held with all proceeds going directly to the Partnership Cancer Fund.

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