HARROGATE, Tenn. -- Don't want to believe that hustle doesn't win basketball games? Then get the video of the last two minutes of Monday's Gulf South East basketball game here.
Yes, Nick Gast grabbed a pass from Marcus Williams and hit the go-ahead basket with 16 seconds left. But that's not the entire story of No. 25 Valdosta State's 76-75 win over Lincoln Memorial.
Hitting the floor. Blocked shots. Tip-ins. And defense when it counted.
"It was a good learning situation to come into a hostile environment and win," said VSU head coach Jim Yarbrough, who waited until after the game to inform his team that they were nationally ranked for the first time. "I knew Lincoln wasn't going away. We looked up and they were right there. But we found a way in (an) adverse situation to win."
The Blazers (13-2, 4-0) survived their first nail-biter of the season, staying atop the Gulf South East standings entering Saturday's game at Alabama-Huntsville. VSU has now won 10 straight.
John Prise had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists to lead Valdosta State. Williams added 15 points, Gast 14 points and Jeremy Brooks 10 points and nine assists. Matt Jones added nine points and nine rebounds.
The hustle was evident in the final two minutes, after Lincoln took a 71-69 on two free throws with 2:17 left. VSU turned the ball over on its next possession, but the Blazers forced a jump ball (and got possession) seconds later.
-- Out of a scramble for a loose ball, Jeremy Brooks got the ball on the left wing and hit a free throw. VSU led 72-71 with 1:36 left.
-- At 1:03, Jones blocked Craig Ziegler's shot. Brooks was fouled four seconds later, but missed two free throws. However, Jones got the tip in. Valdosta State led 74-71 with 59 seconds left.
-- The Railsplitters (10-8, 1-4) retook the lead with two Ziegler free throws, then Leon Love had a steal and a layup. LMU led 75-74 with 38 seconds left.
-- Valdosta State went to Williams, who worked to the left side of the floor. Gast caught his ball from Williams near the basket and scored with 16 seconds left.
"I was watching Marcus. The ball came flying toward my shoulder," Gast said. "I was nervous I'd miss it."
"I tried to pump fake the guy, and I got hit on the wrist," added Williams. "The ball just came out and Nick got it."
LMU went to Ziegler on the last possession, but his effort was short. Ziegler finished the night with a game-high 27 points.
Anthony Matracia added 13 points, while Dwight Windom had 10 points and 14 rebounds for Lincoln Memorial.
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