VALDOSTA, Ga. – No. 11 Valdosta State jumped out to a 10-point first half lead and withstood repeated second half charges from No. 1 Augusta State to defeat the Jaguars 81-75 in non-conference NCAA Division II men's basketball action at the P.E. Complex Saturday afternoon.
The Blazers (16-2) shot 51.5 percent from the floor during the first 20 minutes of play as they connected on 17-of-33 field goal attempts. Meanwhile, ASU (14-1) hit just 12-of-28 attempts (42.9 percent) in the half, including just one three-pointer to VSU's five.
Ben Madgen opened the scoring with a jumper for Augusta State and, after a Tyrone Curnell tip-in for Valdosta State, Alex Smith scored on a dunk with 17:14 to go in the first half to give the Jaguars their final lead of the game as VSU scored the next nine points of the contest. Four different Blazers scored during the run, which was highlighted by a Charles Belton ally-oop dunk and a three-pointer from Marvin Dibble that put Valdosta State up 11-4.
Augusta State fought back, tying the game at 11 a minute later, only to have the Blazers respond with 16-6 spurt to grab the lead for good. Curnell started the run with four straight points before Kevin Harris, playing in just his fourth game as a Blazer, took over the contest. The 5'11 guard connected on a three-pointer and then used a pair of lighting quick moves to break free for a pair of jumpers. Madgen kept the Jaguars in the game with a pair of baskets, but Billy McShepard added a lay-up for VSU and Ricardo Lewis hit a three with 8:10 remaining in the half to put VSU up 27-17.
ASU responded with a run of its own and closed to within 31-28 over the closing minutes of the half, only to have Valdosta State score eight of the final nine points of the frame to grab a 39-29 halftime lead.
Augusta State came out hot in the second half as it connected on seven of its first 11 shots of the frame. A Fred Brathwaite jumper just two and a half minutes into the half cut the Jaguar deficit to three points, but as it would do the remainder of the game, Valdosta State parried the run with one of its own as it scored 10 out of the next 14 for a 51-42 lead with 14:44 remaining.
The next 10 minutes of the game saw the Jaguars cut the VSU lead to four on two occasions and as low as one, at 68-67, with 4:45 remaining, but Valdosta State's Ricardo Lewis scored the next seven points of the game to push the lead back to eight.
The final ASU run of the night saw the Jaguars close to within three with 1:13 to play, but Curnell scored on a lay-up and Lewis connected on three-of-four free throws to seal the victory.
Curnell led the Blazers with 23 points and nine rebounds while also dishing out three assists and blocking two shots. Harris poured in 18 points, in just 16 minutes of action, while Lewis added 13. The Blazers shot 55.4 percent from the floor in the game and committed just eight turnovers. The VSU bench keyed the victory as it outscored its counterpart 28-7.
Brathwaite led all scorers with 25 points and added a game-high 10 rebounds. Smith and Madgen added 18 each as the Jaguars shot 47.3 percent from the field and owned a 32-29 advantage in rebounding.
A season-high 2,636 fans turned out for the game, the third-largest crowd ever at a Valdosta State home game, as the Blazers claimed their first ever victory over the nation's No. 1 team.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, January 21 when it steps back into Gulf South Conference action with a game against West Alabama in the P.E. Complex. Tip-off is slated for 8:00 p.m.
VALDOSTA, Ga. – The Lady Blazers pushed their winning streak to four straight with an impressive 73-60 victory over Saint Leo Saturday. Amanda Haven, Michelle Thompson and Sierra Nixon each scored double digits to lead Valdosta State.
Haven led the team with 18 points, seven of which came at the free throw line where she only missed one. She added five rebounds and three steals as well.
Thompson dropped 15 points on the Lions as she steadily makes her way to 1,000 points. She now has 942 points in her career.
And Nixon contributed 11 points and 16 rebounds. Her rebounds match the season high for VSU that she set last game against West Florida.
As always, spearheading the offense was Leschelle Matthews. She finished with five points, but passed for four assists, brought down five boards and stole the ball three times.
Valdosta State continued the team's strong defensive play that started the winning streak. The VSU defense forced 17 turnovers and made nine steals. The Lady Blazers also brought down 30 defensive boards and 42 overall for a five rebound advantage over Saint Leo. The tenacious defense also forced a 32.8 percent shooting percentage for Saint Leo.
Saint Leo's Dominique Daniels was averaging just over 14 points per game, but the Lady Blazers held her to 10, most of which came late in the game. Gekeela Clemmons scored 20 points for the Lions while Willonda Windham led the team in rebounds with seven.
Trailing by five early, the Lady Blazers started to shut down Saint Leo. Over the course of nearly five minutes in the first half, Valdosta State did not allow a Saint Leo basket, and went on an 8-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Haven to claim a 14-11 lead. Saint Leo never led again in the game, as VSU went on to lead by as much as 17 points.
The closest the Lions would sniff was five points, but Haven hit two free throws followed by a lay-up from Thompson. Haven made two more free throws before Nixon tipped in the final basket of the game to secure the 13-point win.
For the second game in a row, the Lady Blazers dominated nearly every statistic. Valdosta State finished with 34 points in the paint, 18 points off turnovers, 18 second chance points, 22 bench points and six fast break points to beat Saint Leo in all categories.
The Lady Blazers will look to do it again against Clark Atlanta at 6 p.m. in the Complex Monday.