Valdosta State falls in GSC finals - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta State falls in GSC finals

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Courtesy of VSU athletics:

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - In Valdosta State's third appearance ever in the Gulf South Conference championship game, the Blazers could not outdo Arkansas Tech. Renard Allen, the tournament's most outstanding player, finished with 25 points to lead the Wonder Boys past VSU, 79-66.

Tyrone Curnell, an All-GSC tournament selection, was the only Blazer to score in double digits with 12 while Ray Cummings led the team in rebounds with eight. Arkansas Tech had five players reach double figures.

Valdosta State's biggest problem in the game came in the paint. The Wonder Boys scored 44 points in the paint to VSU's 18. ATU shot 49.2 percent from the field, 60.9 percent in the second half, while the Blazers shot 31.7 percent. Those two factors proved to be the most important in the game.

Early in the first half, Ricardo Lewis, another All-GSC tournament selection, found himself on the bench due to two quick fouls. But Tristan Crawford immediately made up for the loss with a three-point play. He drove strong down the right side to draw a foul and make the lay up.

Later, Marquis Robinson put together a strong series for the Blazers. Upon entering the game he altered a Wonder Boy shot and ran the court for a fast break lay up to earn a 19-13 lead with 8:38 left in the half. Two possessions later he drew an Arkansas Tech foul.

Arkansas Tech worked its way back into the game and, with an Irvin Humphrey lay up, tied the game at 21 with just under six minutes left in the first frame. De'Andre Johnson answered for Valdosta State with a five unanswered points. First he hit a tough runner in the lane and followed that with a deep three-pointer on the ensuing possession.

With 37 seconds left in the half Arkansas Tech's Dusan Radivojevic hit a three from the corner to take the lead for the Wonder Boys, 35-33. That would be the lead ATU would take to the locker room at halftime.

Renard Allen led the Wonder Boys in scoring with 12 points at halftime while Humphrey led the team in rebounds with five. For VSU, it was Johnson leading the way with eight points. Three Blazers had five rebounds at the half to help Valdosta State hold a slight rebounding edge over Arkansas Tech.

The Wonder Boys came out of the half with a 6-0 run before Lewis hit a free throw for VSU's first point of the second half. Shortly after Allen finished a strong dunk for a 43-35 ATU lead.

After free throws from Marvin Dibble, the Wonder Boys went on an 11-0 run for a 54-37 lead. Valdosta State finally broke the streak with two Anderson free throws.

With 10:05 left to play, Christian Hunter knocked down the first field goal for the Blazers since 2:38 left in the first half. The basket made it 57-43 in favor of Arkansas Tech.

Curnell made two consecutive three-pointers to give VSU hope. His shots closed the gap to 61-49 with 7:42 left in the game. Dibble came back later to make a tough three-point play in the lane. Falling to the ground, he was able to get the shot to roll in and he followed it up with the free three throw to make it 65-54 with 6:17 left.

Crawford entered the game for Curnell after he was called for his fifth foul. Immediately, Crawford knocked down a three-pointer for a 69-57 score. For the next few possessions, VSU could neither stop the Wonder Boys or beat them on the glass. Once it turned into a battle of free throws, Arkansas Tech took control.

The Blazer men earned a six seed in the NCAA tournament and will play third seeded Claflin on Saturday.

The Lady Blazers also made the NCAA tournament earning an eight seed. They will play at top seeded Delta State on Friday.