FLORENCE, Ala. – Tyrone Curnell scored a career-high 36 points while also grabbing a season-best 14 rebounds to lead 12th-ranked Valdosta State to its first Gulf South victory of the season as the Blazers defeated North Alabama 86-73 Sunday afternoon in Flowers Hall.
The double-double was the fifth of the season for Curnell, and the second in as many days, as he connected on 13-of-23 field goals, including six-of-eight from beyond the three-point arc. Tristan Crawford and Ricardo Lewis joined Curnell in double digits scoring as Crawford finished with 15 while Lewis scored 11.
Curnell's 14 boards and six from Marvin Dibble helped the Blazers (14-2, 1-0) claim a 43-33 advantage in rebounding over North Alabama (8-7, 1-1). VSU also finished with two more steals than UNA, 8-6, although both teams finished with 15 turnovers.
Valdosta State shot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from long range and was aided by 40 points in the paint and 17 second chance.
Curnell led the Blazers to an early 25-17 lead with 17 points in the first nine minutes of the game as he connected on five straight three-pointers. Lewis also contributed a three during the run to give Valdosta State six consecutive trifectas, but VSU was unable to take advantage of the hot early shooting as UNA scored the next six points of the game to trail just 25-23, at the media timeout with 9:57 left in the half.
The scoring slowed in the later part of the first half, but Curnell still finished the half with 23 points and six treys to help the Blazers lead at the break, 40-32. Valdosta State had eight threes, on 17 attempts, in the first half with Dibble providing the final one of the frame.
Curnell picked up where he left off in the second as he scored the first points of the frame off of an assist from Charles Belton. Belton followed with a lay-up and Lewis hit a three-pointer before North Alabama could break Valdosta State's 7-0 run to start the half.
Leading 58-40, Curnell added a punctuation point to his scoring with a thunderous dunk in the face of UNA's Eric Wormely, who fouled Curnell on the play. The play gave Curnell 31 points in the contest and the Blazers a 20-point lead, at 60-40, with 12:30 left to play.
The Lions eventually pulled within 10, 72-62, with 4:17 to play, but got no closer as the Blazers strung a few timely baskets together and forced North Alabama to start fouling. Valdosta State knocked down the free throws to seal the victory.
Jacobe Shannon scored 23 to lead the Lions while Jared Strode and Daviel Clements added 13 each.
Valdosta State returns to action Wednesday, January 13 when it continues GSC action. The Blazers will host West Florida in the P.E. Complex, with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m.
FLORENCE, Ala. – Behind Amanda Haven's 20 points in her first start of her collegiate career and aggressive defense, Valdosta State flew to a 76-60 win over North Alabama for the team's first Gulf South Conference victory of the season.
With the win, Valdosta State moves to 6-7 on the season but 1-0 in the Gulf South. North Alabama drops to 7-10 and 1-1 in the GSC.
Haven was not the only Lady Blazer to look good offensively Sunday. Leschelle Matthews scored 12 points and stole the ball five times while Tamika Booker scored 11 points and had six rebounds. Sierra Nixon finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Valdosta State buried nine three-pointers in the game on 52.9 percent shooting from long range. The team finished 52.6 from the field.
The Lady Blazer defense forced 22 turnovers from North Alabama on 12 steals and scored 32 points in the paint. At times, the Lady Blazers looked dominant leading by as much as 19 throughout the game.
Both the Lady Blazers and Lions came out scoring early with the score 19-16 in favor of VSU at the first media timeout. The Lions led early until Haven buried a three to make it 17-16, VSU. The Lady Blazers followed that with a nice pass from Sczeny Hartry to a streaking Booker for two more points.
North Alabama pulled within one on free throws, but Hartry hit the fourth VSU three-pointer of the game for a 22-18 lead. After that, the Lions called a timeout.
The Lady Blazer pressure defense forced three turnovers on four North Alabama possessions to stretch the lead to 28-20 with just under six minutes left in the half.
Three more three-pointers by the Lady Blazers helped Valdosta State claim a 39-29 lead at the half, with nine of North Alabama's points coming from free throws. In the first half, Hartry, Haven, Michelle Thompson and Matthews combined for seven threes, including one buzzer beater at the end of the half by Thompson, on 58.3 percent shooting from distance. The team shot 50 percent overall in the first frame.
Valdosta State continued the team's strong defensive play throughout the half. Despite 13 personal fouls, the Lady Blazer defense forced 10 turnovers with six steals in the half.
The Lady Blazers kept it up to start the second half. Thompson scored to start the second half scoring and Matthews hit a runner at the buzzer to avoid a shot clock violation. Nixon made a three-point play and Brittany Daniels converted a tough basket in the post to make it 48-31 five minutes into the second frame.
With the Lions fighting back to trail 54-45 with 9:20 left, Matthews dished to Daniels who gave it back for the give and go. Matthews made the tough lay-up and drew the foul to regain the 11-point lead.
Haven followed with another trey, but North Alabama answered. The Lions made another three-pointer and pulled within six, 59-53 with 6:38 left in the game.
With the score at 59-55, Haven made another big play with a drive down the left side. She made the lay-up and drew the foul. She converted the free throw for the traditional three-point play then drew another foul on the ensuing possession.
After two points from Booker, Valdosta State regained an 11-point lead. Valdosta State's defense buckled down and forced a turnover and made a stop so Booker cold score again followed by a Thompson three ball to make it 71-55, VSU, with just 2:31 left to play.
A combination of strong defense and timely baskets helped the Lady Blazers run out the rest of the clock and earn a 76-60 win for their first Gulf South victory of the season.