Valdosta Daily Times

December 2, 2012

Blazers fall 95-94 to North Alabama in overtime thriller


The Valdosta Daily Times

FLORENCE, Ala. — Nathan Spehr hit a three-pointer with three seconds remaining to lead North Alabama to a 95-94 overtime victory over North Alabama in Flowers Hall in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action Saturday afternoon.

With the win, North Alabama improved to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in GSC play while Valdosta State fell to 6-1 and 1-1 in league action.

Spehr's trifecta from the right corner capped off a back-and-forth affair that saw 19 lead changes and 16 ties. Valdosta State forced the extra period with a dramatic three-pointer of its own as David Murray grabbed a rebound in the closing moments of regulation and banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 86-86.

The final five minutes of play featured two of the ties and three of the lead changes. Valdosta State took the early lead in the frame as Josh Sparks hit a lay-up less than 30 seconds into the overtime. North Alabama came back four straight points to reclaim the lead, only to have VSU respond with six of its own, including a three-pointer and one of two free throws from Shaquille Harris, to take a 94-90 advantage with 13 seconds to play in the game. Bruce Adams hit a lay-up to cut the Blazer lead in half to set up the Spehr winner.

Neither team led by more than six points during the first half, which saw 10 ties and six lead changes. North Alabama claimed the half's largest lead when it used an 8-0 run in the first five minutes of play to build an 11-5 advantage. However, Valdosta State responded with the next six points of the contest to even the game and eventually built a 40-38 lead at the half.

The game remained close during the first three minutes of the second half before the Lions used a 14-4 run over a six minute span to open the game's largest lead at 59-49. Three different UNA players scored during the run, led by Rashaun Claiborne, who hit two jumpers and a three-pointer.

Valdosta State scored the next seven points to get back within three points with 10:14 to go and eventually regained the lead on a Harris basket five minutes later. The next five minutes featured four lead changes and a tie before the Murray three-pointer forced the overtime.

Sparks just missed a triple-double in the game as he scored 14 points, had 16 rebounds and blocked nine shots. Harris led VSU with 23 points while James Anacreon added 22. Murray and Patrick Diop added 11 points each and John Hoskins 10 as VSU hit 31-of-71 shots to shoot 43.7 percent from the floor. The Blazers owned a 52-41 edge in rebounding but committed 22 turnovers.

Bruce Adams hit 10-of-11 free throws to lead North Alabama with 24 points while Claiborne added 19. Spehr poured in 12, all on three-pointers, Wes Long and DeAndre Hersey had 11 each and Marquel Darrington scored 10. UNA connected on 31-of-74 field goals, including 14 three-pointers, to shoot 41.9 percent.

Valdosta State returns to action Tuesday at 5 p.m. when it hosts Fort Valley State at The Complex. The VSU and FVSU women will play following the men at 7 p.m.