Courtesy of VSU athletics:
VALDOSTA, Ga. – Six Valdosta State players scored in double figures as the fifth-ranked Blazers defeated North Alabama 81-70 in front of a school record crowd of 3,419 fans in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at the P.E. Complex Thursday night.
The victory marked the 12th-straight for VSU, the longest winning streak in the school's 36-year NCAA Division II history, and improved the Valdosta State record to 20-2 and 6-0 in GSC play. Meanwhile, North Alabama fell to 10-11 and 2-4 in league play.
All 12 Blazer players played in the contest, with nine of those scoring, led by Tristian Crawford with 15. Tyrone Curnell, Marvin Dibble and Ryan Nelson added 13 each while Kevin Harris finished with 10.
North Alabama used a barrage from beyond the three-point line during the first seven minutes of play to take the early lead. The Lions connected on seven threes during the span, including four from Daviel Clements, who scored 16 of UNA's first 29 points. Jacobe Shannon closed out the run trifecta on-slaught with a three from the right wing to put North Alabama up 29-24 with 7:23 remaining in the half.
Valdosta State took over from there as it scored 19 of the next 24 points of the half. Ricardo Lewis began the run with a lay-up and, after a jumper by UNA's Rory Miller, Dibble added a tip-in and Curnell a pair of free throws. The Lions got a Shannon free throw to temporarily stem the Blazer run, only to have Dibble tie the contest at 32-32 on a lay-up with 3:49 remaining.
After a Jared Strode bucket for North Alabama, Curnell hit two more free throws and then fed Dibble for lay-up to put VSU in front. On the Blazers next trip, Curnell hit Lewis for another lay-up and Crawford scored on a three-point play off of a Dibble steal before closing the urn with a tip-in.
Trent McCants proceeded to score on the Lions' eighth three of the half, but Lewis hit an acrobatic lay-up at the buzzer to put Valdosta State in front 45-37 at the intermission.
North Alabama closed to within two points twice in the early minutes of the second half, only to have the Blazers use a 30-10 run over a 12 minute span to grab its largest lead at 81-61 with 2:02 to play. Marquel Darrington scored six straight points to spur a mini UNA run in the closing moments.
Dibble grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to help Valdosta State to a 50-34 advantage in rebounding in the game. The Blazers dominated the paint as they held a 46-20 advantage in points in the paint as the squad shot 46.4 percent (32-of-69) from the field. Nelson finished with three of VSU's five blocks while Curnell tallied five of the team's six steals.
Strode scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds to lead UNA while Clements finished with 19. The Lions shot 38.1 percent from the field in the game, connecting on 24-of-63 field goal attempts, including 11-of-22 from beyond the three-point arc.
The Blazers return to action Saturday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m. as it closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule by hosting Lambuth in the P.E. Complex.