The Valdosta Daily Times
PENSACOLA, Fla. —
West Florida built a 21-point second half lead, then withstood a late Valdosta State rally that saw the Blazers close to within three points and defeated the Blazers 99-93 in Gulf South Conference men’s basketball action on Saturday evening at the UWF Fieldhouse.
With the win, West Florida improved to 8-7 overall and 3-4 in GSC play, while Valdosta State fell to 10-5 and 2-5 in league action.
Patrick Diop had a big game for Valdosta State, scoring 38 points in the loss. Diop made 11 of 22 field goals, including 4 of 9 three-pointers, and was 12 of 13 from the free throw line.
Early in the game, the Argonauts forced Valdosta State into four turnovers in the first four minutes of the game while making 7 of 12 field goal attempts to build a 14-6 lead.
The Argonaut lead remained steady for the next seven minutes before UWF used a 17-3 run to build a 19-point advantage. The Blazers missed seven of their eight field goal attempts during the run, while West Florida made seven of its 10 attempts. Lendward Griffin closed out the run with a layup with 3:33 to go in the first half that gave UWF a 42-23 advantage.
Valdosta State closed to within 14 points three times over the remainder of the half, the last coming on a David Murray layup off of a Patrick Diop steal with six seconds to go that cut the Argonauts’ lead to 52-38 at the half.
West Florida shot 61 percent from the field in the first half, making 22 of its 36 field goal attempts.
UWF continued its hot shooting in the early minutes of the second half. The Argonauts made their first seven shots of the half to open a 68-47 advantage.
With the West Florida lead standing at 70-49, Valdosta State used a 13-2 run to get back into the game. Shaquille Harris spurred the run, making three three-pointers and added a fast break dunk with 10:28 to play in the game to pull VSU within 72-62.
UWF answered the run by scoring the next four points of the game, only to have the Blazers score 13 of the next 20 to close to within 81-73 with 5:03 remaining.
Valdosta State’s deficit got no lower than eight and no higher than 12 the next three minutes, before Diop put together an eight-point run by himself to close VSU to within 91-88 with 1:16 remaining. The junior guard made two free throws and drained a pair of three-pointers from the top of the key to get VSU to within three points.
Harris added 20 points for Valdosta State. The Blazers shot 41.9 percent from the field and 78.6 percent from the free throw line.
Terrence Beasley scored 23 points to lead West Florida, while Ellis Young added 22 and Peter Connole 19. Griffin added 16 and Jason Laatsch 11, as the Argonauts made 38 of their 65 shots (58.5 percent). UWF also owned a 43-36 advantage in rebounding.
Valdosta State will open a four-game homestand on Thursday, when it hosts Christian Brothers at 8 p.m. in The Complex. VSU will honor its 2012 national championship football team at halftime of the game.