CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The Valdosta State men's basketball team trailed by three at halftime, but a strong second half performance allowed the Blazers to overcome the deficit and hold off the Lee Flames for a 76-72 Gulf South Conference win on Saturday afternoon in Cleveland, Tenn.
After Isaac Merian connected from three point range with two seconds to play in the first half, Lee was afforded a 36-33 advantage at intermission. The Blazers didn't falter however, and completely controlled the first 16 minutes of the second half to open up a 17-point lead with 4:27 to play in regulation.
Just over one minute later, the Flames began to foul in order to stop the clock. A series of missed free throws by Valdosta State and four three-pointers by the Flames in the closing minutes allowed Lee to narrow the gap to just two points with less than one minute to play. Saadiq Muhammad stepped up in the final seconds, however, to drill two critical free throws and hold LU at bay.
Jeremiah Hill led the way for the Blazers on offense with 18 points on a 7-of-16 performance from the field. The senior came just two rebounds shy of a double-double after hauling in eight rebounds, and he added four assists with one steal. In addition, guard Josh Lemons added 13 points, and Jimmy Kodet poured in 11 points, eight of which came in the second half.
Valdosta State shot 33.3 percent from three point range in the first half with a 4-of-12 effort, but the team made their most substantial strides from long range in the second half with a 55.6 shooting performance (5-of-9). Kodet accounted for two of the second half threes, while Lemons, Hill, and Damian Young added one each. In contrast, the Flames were 0-of-10 from beyond the arc until their aforementioned surge during the game's final three minutes.
The win put Valdosta State in a three-way tie for third place in the GSC, improving the team to 9-3 overall and 4-2 against league opponents. The Flames saw their record fall to an even 6-6, and their conference record dropped to 2-4 overall.
Next up for VSU, it's another road matchup against Shorter in Rome, Ga. The Blazers will take on the Hawks at 8:00 p.m. on Monday night, with full coverage available right here at www.vstateblazers.com.