AUGUSTA, Ga. - No. 5 Augusta State built a 21-point first half lead and withstood a second half comeback bid by No. 24 Valdosta State as the Jaguars defeated the Blazers 90-74 in non-conference men's basketball action at Christenberry Fieldhouse Monday evening.
Neither team shot well through the first 10 minutes of the game as Valdosta State connected on five of its first 15 free throws while Augusta State connected on just six of its first 17. The Jaguars grabbed an eight point advantage during the run as it connected on four three pointers and five of its eight free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Blazers hit just one three and missed six of eight charity shots while falling behind 21-13 at the media timeout.
ASU took to the free throw line from there to push its advantage into double digits. After a basket by Travis Keels, the next six Augusta state points all came from the charity stripe and ended the half having connected on its final 13 of the half. The Jaguars also connected on three more trifectas in the half and eventually led 49-28 at the intermission.
Valdosta State opened the second half on a 15-4 run to close to within 10 points. Kevin Harris spurred the run as he scored six points while Christian Hunter added five and Martrez Scott four. Scott scored the first four points of the half as he hit a lay-up and added two free throws and, after a Frank Ndongo basket for ASU, Harris added a three-point play. George Johnson responded with a jumper for the Jaguars, but Harris added a three-pointer and Hunter connected on two free throws and a three-pointer to close VSU to within 50-40.
Augusta State rebounded from the early run by scoring 14 of the next 21 points to once again push its advantage to a comfortable 17 points and kept its lead above 13 points until a Tristan Steele three-point play with 7:44 remaining closed the Blazers to within 70-58.
The two teams traded baskets on the next four trips down the floor before the Jaguars once again built a 17 points lead, at 79-62, but VSU responded with 12 straight points to pull to within five points on a Sindey Harris three with 2:40 remaining in the game.
Johnson took over the remainder of the game as he scored the next seven points of the contest, including five from the free throw line. O'Neal Armstrong added four more free throws to close out the scoring.
Kevin Harris led Valdosta State with 13 points while Steele and Scott finished with 12 each. The Blazes shot 39.7 percent from the floor in the game and 57.1 from the free throw line.
Johnson led Augusta State with 19 points while Armstrong added 16, Ndongo 12 and Ben Purser 11. The Jaguars shot 47.3 percent from the field, including 56.0 percent in the second half, and owned a 44-31 advantage in rebounds in the contest.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday, January 22 when it travels to Jackson, Tenn. for a Gulf South Conference game against Lambuth. Tip-off for the contest is slated for 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
For further information, visit: www.vstateblazers.com