VALDOSTA, Ga. - Walter Hill scored 28 points to lead Shorter to a 75-69 Gulf South Conference victory over Valdosta State in men's basketball action at The Complex Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Shorter improved to 8-4 overall and 2-2 in Gulf South Conference action while Valdosta State fell to 9-3 and 1-3 in league play.
Shorter never trailed in the game, which featured just four ties. With the game tied 7-7 just over three minutes into play, the Hawks used a 12-4 run to grab control of the contest. Hill scored 10 of the 12 points in the spurt as he opened the run with a jumper before hitting a pair of three-pointers and a lay-up for the final eight points, which gave SU a 19-11 lead with 12:57 to go.
Valdosta State got back within four points on two occasions over the next four minutes only to have Shorter use a 8-2 spurt to grab its largest lead of the first half at 31-21.
The Hawk double-digit lead was short-lived as the Blazers scored the next 10 points to even the game. Josh Sparks and Patrick Diop combined for three free throws to open the VSU run before David Murray hit a three and John Hoskins a lay-up. Diop tied the game with a fast break lay-in with 25 seconds remaining in the half, but Anthony Banks connected on a pair of free throws with four seconds to go to give Shorter a 33-31 halftime lead.
Sparks hit a lay-up to open the scoring in the second half and tie the game once again, only to have the Hawks score eight of the next 10 to once again grab the lead. Valdosta State fought back to tie the game at 45-45 with 12:46 to go in the contest, but Hill answered with a three-pointer to give SU a lead it would not give up the rest of the game.
Valdosta State got no closer than a point the remainder of the contest while Shorter led by as much as 67-57 with 5:34 to play. The Blazers used one final run, which saw them close to within 71-69 with 35 seconds to play, but got no closer as Dedric Ware hit four free throws in the closing moments to seal the victory.
Diop led Valdosta State with 21 points as he hit 5-of-11 shots and 11-of-12 free throws while John Hoskins added a career-best 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting and a 10-of-12 performance from the free throw line. Valdosta State shot just 35.7 percent from the floor in the game as it connected on only 20-of-56 field goal attempts and had 18 turnovers that led to 12 Shorter steals. The Blazers used 15 blocks to keep the game close, including seven by Sparks, who finished the game just four shy of the VSU career record of 195 held by Jon Rogers.
Hill hit 10-of-20 shots, including 6-of-11 three-pointers, while Ware finished with 18 points and five steals. The Hawks owned a 48-42 advantage in rebounding as Banks tallied 10 and Brandon Wright 11 and shot 37.5 percent from the floor, where they made 27-of-72 field goal attempts.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, January 9 when it travels to Carrollton, Ga. to face West Georgia at 7:30 p.m. in a GSC match-up.