FLORENCE, Ala. – All five North Alabama starters scored in double figures as the Lions defeated Valdosta State 100-89 in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at Flowers Hall Saturday afternoon.
The two teams played even for the first six minutes before North Alabama (10-13, 3-4) used a 9-1 run to grab a lead it would hold for the next seven minutes of play. Kenyan Jackson opened the run with a jumper before Trent McCants added a three and Wes Long a lay-up. After Tristan Steele connected on one of two free throws for the Blazers (17-6, 4-3). Ricky Davison closed out the spurt with a fast break lay-up to give UNA a 22-14 advantage with 11:50 to play in the first half.
Valdosta State was able to close to within a single basket three times over the next four minutes before putting together a 17-5 run that gave the Blazers their largest lead of the half at 42-36. Four different Blazers scored during the run, led by Billy McShepard with seven points, including a three-point play with 2:09 remaining in the frame that closed out the run. Sidney Harris also added a pair of three-pointers while Will Alston and Paul Hagler each added a basket.
The Lions fought back to take a two point lead a minute later, but Kevin Harris connected on a three-pointer, his only basket of the first half, to give VSU a 47-45 halftime advantage.
North Alabama opened the second half on a 14-4 run to once again build an eight point lead and, after a 10-2 charge by the Blazers tied the game, scored eight straight to once again grab the lead. The early second half run by the Lions saw UNA connect on 10 of its 16 field goal attempts while forcing Valdosta State, which committed just five turnovers in the first half, into eight turnovers over the first 10 minutes of the second half.
VSU got no closer than three points over the course of the last 10 minutes of the game as it connected on just 7-of-17 field goals and 3-of-6 free throws during the span. The cold shooting by the Blazers helped North Alabama to slowly build its lead, which topped out at 13 points on two different occasions.
Alston led Valdosta State with 19 points as he connected on 6-of-8 field goal attempts, while McShepard added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Sidney Harris and Steele contributed 15 each and Kevin Harris tallied 10, but connected on just 3-of-12 field goals in the contest.
Marcus Landry led the Lions as he scored 26 points while pulling down 16 rebounds. Beaumont Beasley added 21 and McCants 18 while Davison 14 and Long 13.
Valdosta State shot 45.7 percent from the floor in the game and committed 15 turnovers while North Alabama shot 48.5 percent. VSU owned a 44-39 advantage in rebounding in the game.
Valdosta State returns to action Monday, February 7 at 8:30 p.m. when it plays at No. 5 Alabama-Huntsville.