Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Valdosta State Downs Albany State 79-69

VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State used a 23-6 run in the first half to grab the lead en route to a 79-69 victory over Albany State in men’s basketball action at The Complex Tuesday evening.

Valdosta State (4-2) jumped out to an early lead as the Blazers scored the first seven points of the game. Christian Hunter hit a lay-up off the opening tip before Kevin Harris added a lay-in. Tristan Steele closed out the run with a three from the top of the key.

Albany State (0-3) scored 12 of the next 17 points and eventually built a 21-17 lead as it connected on nine of its next 14 shots while forcing the Blazers into six turnovers over a seven minute span.

VSU answer the ASU spurt with the game-deciding run that built a 40-27 with 3:46 remaining in the half. Billy McShepard opened the run with a lay-up and, after a Stephen Francis free throw for the Golden Rams, Harris picked off a pass for a easy two points. Steele hit a three to put VSU in front and McShepard added a three-point play to put Valdosta State up 27-22. The two teams proceeded to trade jumpers before Harris hit a three, only to have De’Andre Johnson respond with a 25-foot trifecta for ASU. Josh Sparks scored the next six points of the game before feeding McShepard for a dunk to give the Blazers their 13 point lead.

The Golden Rams closed to within eight points over the ensuing three minutes, only to have Valdosta State claim a 42-32 lead at the intermission.

Valdosta State pushed its lead to 18 points over the first five minutes of the second half and held the advantage for the next eight minutes, only to have Albany State use a 15-5 run over a four minute span to close to within eight points with two minutes to play. Six different ASU players scored during the run, led by Marcus Benitez who scored five of the 15 points.

The Golden Rams got no closer as the Blazers connected on all six of their free throws while also getting a fast break lay-up from Steele to close out the victory.

Sparks led the Blazers with 16 points while Harris added 14, Steele 13 and McShepard 12. McShepard also had 11 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the year, to help Valdosta State to a 39-33 advantage in rebounding. VSU shot 47.3 percent from the floor in the game as it connected on 26-of-55 shots while also being successful on 20-of-25 free throw attempts.

Benitez was the only Albany State player to score in double figures as he finished with a game-high 20 points. ASU shot 28-of-64 (43.8 percent) from the floor, but was successful on just 9-of-20 free throw attempts.

Valdosta State returns to action Saturday, November 27 at 4:30 p.m. when it hosts Clayton State in The Complex.

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