VALDOSTA, Ga. – West Florida used a hot shooting first half to defeat Valdosta State 73-63 in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at The Complex in front of a crowd of 3,983, the second-largest crowd in school history.
Valdosta State controlled the first five minutes of the contest before West Florida used a 14-5 spurt to grab the lead. After missing its first field goal attempt of the run, UWF connected on its next five attempts, including three straight by Jamar Moore. Anthony Sims closed out the spurt with a lay-up with 9:47 remaining to give the Argonauts a 23-15 advantage.
The West Florida lead grew to as much as 29-18 over the next three minutes as the Argonauts connected on 12-of-15 field goal attempts during the span. The Blazers used a brief 4-0 run to close to within seven points, only to have the Argonauts build a 38-29 advantage.
Overall, West Florida shot 17-of-31, 54.8 percent, from the field in the half and owned a commanding 26-12 advantage in points in the paint and a 12-2 edge in fast break points. Meanwhile, VSU shot just 37.0 percent as it connected on only 10-of-27 field goals.
After the two teams played even for the first eight minutes of the second half, Valdosta State used a 5-0 spurt to pull to within six points, at 52-46, but turned the ball over on six possessions, negating a West Florida 2-for-6 shooting performance during the next six minutes of the contest.
The Argonauts weathered the stretch to build a 59-48 advantage on a Mike Whisman put-back bucket with 5:17 to play. West Florida's lead stood above the 10-point mark for two minutes before Valdosta State went on its final run of the game.
Mike Holloway hit a pair of free throws to cut 61-49 UWF advantage to 10 points. Drew Maynard proceeded to knock the ball away on the inbounds pass scored on a pass from Holloway before hitting a driving lay-up off of a Michael Panaggio steal to cut the Blazer deficit to six points. After West Florida threw the ensuing in-bounds pass away, Maynard grabbed an offensive rebound and added his third straight basket to pull the Blazers to within four points at 61-57 with 2:02 remaining.
The Argonauts proceeded to hit 11 of 13 free throws to stave off any further VSU comeback bid.
Maynard tallied his second career double-double as he scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Blazers. Panaggio finished with a team-high 16 points while Holloway also scored in double figures with 11.
Valdosta State shot just 35.5 percent in the game as it hit only 22-of-62 field goal attempts. After being out-rebounded 18-16 in the first half, VSU finished the contest with a 39-36 advantage in rebounding, but committed 19 turnovers.
Moore tallied 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead West Florida while Sims and Marquis Mathis tallied 14 each and Martell Buie 13 and seven assists, all of which came in the decisive first half.
The Argonauts shot 49.1 percent in the game as they connected on 26-of-53 points and came up with 11 steals in the contest.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, February 2 when it travels to Cleveland, Miss. to take on Gulf South Conference foe Delta State at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.