Tuesday, December 14, 2010

VSU scores seven points in final eight seconds, defeats Delta State 68-67

CLEVELAND, Miss. – Valdosta State scored seven points in the final 14 seconds of the ball game as the Blazers defeated Delta State 68-67 in non-conference men’s basketball action Tuesday evening.

Delta State (5-5) grabbed the lead with a 9-0 run that gave the Statesmen a 67-61 lead with less than a minute to play to set up the final dramatic seconds. After a missed free throw by DSU’s Marqueys Brown, Martrez Scott pulled VSU (8-2) to within four points with a lay-up before Brown missed two more free throws. Tristan Steele promptly connected on a three with eight seconds to go and, after a VSU timeout, Scott stole the in-bounds pass and called another timeout. Out of the break, Scott slashed to the bucket and hit the lay-up at the buzzer to seal the Blazer victory.

Delta State raced out to an early 10-4 lead Valdosta State missed nine of its first 10 shots of the game. The only VSU basket over the first six minutes of play came when Sidney Harris hit a fast break lay-up off of a steal. Meanwhile, Christian Hunter added two free throws for the Blazers while the Statesmen connected on four of their first seven shots, including a pair of three-pointers, to claim the advantage.

The DSU lead extended to 17-7 over the ensuing two minutes of play before Valdosta State used three straight threes to close to within 19-16. However, the Blazer’s shooting woes continued as the half progressed, as VSU missed five of its next six shots. Delta State also struggled from the field as it also hit just one of six shots during a seven minute span, but was successful on five of six free throw attempts to push its advantage to 26-18 with 5:50 remaining in the first half.

A pair of dunks got Valdosta State back to within four points, but the failed to score the remainder of the half as the Statesmen claimed a 34-22 halftime lead.

The Blazers shot just 27.6 percent from the field during the first half as they connected on just 8-of-29 field goal attempts, including just 3-of-15 three pointers. VSU was also hampered by 10 turnovers in the half, but was aided by the fact that DSU turned the ball over nine times while connecting on 12-of-30 shots.

Valdosta State began to chip away at its deficit early in the second half as it connected on six of its first eight shots, including a pair of threes by Sidney Harris, to pull to within 41-38 with just under 14 minutes remaining. Steele, who hit two threes in the first half, closed out the 16-7 VSU run that opened the half with his third trifecta of the game with 13:42 to go in the contest.

The Blazers continued the onslaught over the ensuing two minutes and eventually evened the game at 43-43 on a Josh Sparks dunk with 11:24 to play.

A pair of free throws put Delta State back in front while Scott gave the Blazers their first lead, at 46-45, since the score stood at 2-0 with a three-point play. The Statesmen scored the next four points to once again grab the lead only to have the Blazers once again fight back for a 53-51 advantage with 7:45 to go.

VSU stretched its lead to as much as 57-51 over the ensuing two minutes of play, only to have Delta State fight back and once again even the game, at 58-58, with just under five minutes to play. An Alston three-point play with 3:48 remaining put Valdosta State back in front.

Alston connected on six-of-eight field goals and both of his free throws to lead Valdosta State with 14 points while Sidney Harris tallied 11. Kevin Harris, the Gulf South Conference’s leading scorer at 22.5 points per game, was held to just four points in the contest as he connected on just 2-of-13 field goal attempts. Steele and Scott, who was playing in his first game as a Blazer, tallied 12 points each with Scott also registering five rebounds and three assists in the ball game.

The Blazers shot 46.4 percent from the floor in the game as they connected on 26-of-56 shots and committed 17 turnovers while also registering eight steals. VSU was 16-of-27 from the floor in the second half when it shot 59.3 percent from the floor.

Chris Poellnitz tallied a game-high 21 points to lead DSU while Ken Mitchell finished with 17 and Phil Turner 12. The Statesmen shot 43.1 percent from the floor and owned a 40-35 advantage in rebounding, but turned the ball over 18 times.

Valdosta State returns to action Friday, December 17 when it begins play in the Hampton Inn & Suites Fall Finals Classic in Savannah, Ga. The tournament, which is being hosted by Armstrong Atlantic, will feature the Blazers playing Brewton-Parker at 3:00 p.m. on Friday and Hiwassee at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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