ROME, Ga. - Valdosta State double digit second half lead and withstood a rally by Shorter as the Blazers defeated the Hawks 97-89 in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at the Winthrop-King Centre Saturday.
With the win, Valdosta State improved to 14-7 overall and 6-7 in GSC play while Shorter fell to 14-7 and 8-5.
Valdosta State shot 60.0 percent in the second half of the game as it turned a 38-33 halftime lead into a 86-70 lead with 3:52 to play in the contest. Shorter came storming back as the Blazers committed turnovers on three of their next four possessions while getting only a David Murray three-pointer during the Hawk run. Shorter got three trifectas and a pair of lay-ups during the run, with the last three-pointer pulling SU to within 89-83 with 47 seconds to play.
VSU hit eight of 10 free throws the rest of the game to seal out the victory.
The two teams played even the first three minutes of play before Valdosta State used a 9-0 run to grab control of the game. Four different Blazers scored during the run as Josh Sparks hit a lay-up to open it and Murray hit a three. James Anacreon added a dunk and Jarroid Johnson a basket to give VSU a 17-8 lead at the 14:55 mark of the first half.
Shorter stormed back to tie the game four minutes later while the lead exchanged hands four times in the following minutes before the Blazer scored eight out of 10 points to once again take the lead.
After the Hawks used a 14-8 run in the opening minutes of the second half to regain the lead, Valdosta State responded with an 8-0 run to lead for good. The Blazers later added an 11-2 spurt and then a 16-7 run to build its 16-point lead.
The Blazers shot 57.4 percent from the floor as they connected on 35-of-61 shots, including 18-of-30 in the second half when they shot 60.0 percent. Valdosta State also made 11 three-pointers, including five by Murray, who scored 25 points in the game. Anacreon added 18 points and 10 rebounds while Patrick Diop had 19 points and Shaquille Harris 14. Josh Sparks also finished in double figures with 11 and had fuor assists and three blocked shots.
VSU also owned a 33-25 advantage in rebounding.
Three Shorter players accounted for 73 of the team's 89 points as Walter Hill led all scorers with 30 while Brandon Pullman added 24 and Dedric Ware 19. Marquise King and Kenny Leverette each had eigh to close out the scoring. SU made 33-of-65 field goals, including 13 three-pointers, to shoot 50.8 percent from the floor. The Hawks also had 11 steals on 18 VSU turnovers.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, February 14 when it hosts West Georgia in GSC play at The Complex at 8:00 p.m.