MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- In a clash of defensive titans, Valdosta State used a quick offensive burst and a big save at the end to remain unbeaten.
The Blazers (5-0) defeated Barry, 60-55, in a college basketball game here Saturday, a contest pitting two of Division II's top scoring defense units.
Both teams have allowed under 58 points a game so far this year. Barry led the nation last year in scoring defense (53 points), while Valdosta State was sixth.
"Our goal was to hold them under 55 points. They struggled to get some points," said VSU head coach Jim Yarbrough. "They were grinding it out, finding a way to get fouled. We did our job defensively."
VSU's Mike Crain led all scorers with 21 points, including five 3-pointers. He had 16 points at the half, as the Blazers led 37-27 at intermission. Crain was in foul trouble much of the second half before fouling out with 13 seconds left.
Rodgie Leggett added 10 points and eight rebounds. Jerrod Jones added five assists and the big offensive rebound near game's end.
VSU made 14-of-21 shots in the first half (23-of-44 for the day), including seven 3-pointers. The Blazers overcame a 21-6 deficit at the free-throw line, and held Barry to a 16-of-39 shooting day. VSU also outrebounded the bigger Barry team, 29-23.
It was the Blazers' offense which made the difference early. VSU scored the game's first 13 points (Crain hit two 3-pointers, Marcus Ghent one) and went up 20-4 with 11:41 left on two Crain free throws.
The lead grew by as much as 17 points before Barry fought back. The Bucs got within eight before Ghent's buzzer-beating jumper just before halftime.
Barry (3-1) fought back from a 12-point deficit to make a game of it at the end. Nick Perez made two free throws with 13 seconds left to get within three points (58-55).
Ernest Scott was fouled two seconds later. Scott missed the free throw, but Jones got the offensive rebound to keep possession.
Leggett was fouled with eight seconds left, making both foul shots to get the game's last points.
"He chased the ball down," Yarbrough said of Jones. "We needed a break like that.
"We need to learn how to finish a game and take some air out of the clock. We'll be talking about that on Sunday."
Clifford Smith had 14 points and six rebounds for Barry. Perez added 13 points, Andres Alfonso 12 points.
VSU completes a two-game Florida road trip Monday night vs. Puerto Rico-Bayamon. The game will be played at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. (7:30 p.m., radio: WVGA-FM 105.9). The Blazers return home Friday.
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