VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State used a balanced scoring attack that saw seven Blazers score at least eight points as VSU defeated Union 81-70 in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at The Complex Thursday evening.
With the win, Valdosta State improved to 13-5 overall and 5-5 in GSC play while Union fell to 4-14 and 2-8 in league play.
Neither team shot well during the first half, as VSU hit just 12-of-36 shots while Union was 12-of -33 from the field. However, Valdosta State took advantage of eight fouls by the Bulldogs to connect on nine out of 12 free throws to build a 35-27 halftime lead.
The game was close throughout the opening five minutes, which featured five lead changes and two ties. The Blazers eventually grabbed control of the game as they broke the final tie with an 8-0 run to grab the lead for good. James Anacreon opened the run with a tip-in before Josh Sparks added a pair of free throws. Jarroid Johnson also made a pair of charity shots before hitting a jumper in the lane to give VSU a 15-7 lead at the 13:46 mark.
Union fought back to get within one point on four different occasions over the next eight minutes, but got no closer as VSU closed the half on a 12-5 run. A Shaquille Harris three-pointer with 2:37 remaining in the half gave Valdosta State its largest lead of the half at 33-23.
The shooting picked up for both squads in the second half, during which VSU made 17-of-29 shots while Union made 18-of-35.
The Blazers were never threatened in the frame as, after Anthony Freeman, Jr. got a tip-in for Union to open the frame, VSU responded with the next seven points to open a double digit lead. The Bulldogs got no closer than eight the rest of the game as the Valdosta State lead stood above 10 for the final 13 minutes of the game.
Much of the Valdosta State success in the line came from the free throw line, where the Blazers held a 21-4 advantage in scoring.
Harris led VSU with 14 points while Anacreon added 12. Sparks, Alan Love and Patrick Diop all had 11 points each while Colin Cook and Johnson had eight apiece. VSU shot 44.6 percent from the floor in the game as they made 29-of-65 field goal attempts and held a 42-34 advantage in rebounding. The Blazers also blocked eight shots, including five by Anacreon, and had nine steals.
Dani Marti had 21 points to lead Union while Corieon Pearson had 16 and Freeman 14. The Bulldogs made 30-of-68 shots to shoot 44.1 percent.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday, February 2 at 8:00 p.m. when it hosts North Alabama in Gulf South Conference play. The 2013 Valdosta State Athletics Hall of Fame class will be honored at halftime of the contest.