PENSACOLA, Fla. – Valdosta State topped the 100-point barrier for the third time this season as the Blazers defeated Mercy 120-64 in the final day of play at the McDonald Fleming Moorhead UWF Christmas Classic at the UWF Field House Friday evening.
The Blazers (12-2) led for all but 38 seconds of the game as Mercy (0-9) hit an early three before VSU reeled off a 12-4 run to grab the lead. Trailing 3-2, Sidney Harris hit a lay-up to put Valdosta State in front before Josh Sparks added a basket. Ed Wilson scored for the Flyers, but Will Alston added a three-point play and Christian Hunter added a pair of free throws. James Mindingall pulled MC back to within four points, but Harris added a three that pushed the Blazer advantage to 14-7.
Mercy got no closer than five points the rest of the half as Valdosta State quickly pushed its edge to double digits while it topped 20 points on a Tristan Steele lay-up with 8:00 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Steele basket came in the midst of a 25-5 run that extended the Blazer lead from 30-16 to 55-21 with 2:17 to go in the first half while a pair of Billy McShepard free throws with 57 seconds remaining in the half established a 58-23 halftime lead.
Mercy connected on just 10-of-40 first half field goal attempts and turned the ball over nine times in the first 20 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Valdosta State hit 18-of-38 first half shots to shoot 47.4 percent from the floor in the frame.
The Valdosta State lead stretched to as much as 77-31 less than six minutes into the second half before the Flyers used a 12-3 spurt to close to within 37 points. The Blazers quickly stretched their advantage back to 40 points while Tristan Steele put into triple digits with a lay-up with 5:45 remaining in the game.
Martrez Scott pushed the VSU lead to 51 points with a dunk two minutes later while a Steele three-pointer with 36 seconds remaining closed out the scoring.
Tristan Steele led Valdosta State with a career-high 31 points as he connected on 12-of-19 shots. Kevin Harris added 16 and Hunter contributed 13 while Alston tallied his second double-double of the year as he finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Sparks just missed a double-double as he scored eight points while also pulling down 11 rebounds.
The Blazers shot 53.2 percent from the floor in the game as they connected on 42-of-79 field goal attempts while also connecting 22-of-34 free throws. Valdosta State also owned a 61-36 advantage in rebounding and registered 11 steals on 19 Mercy turnovers. VSU also blocked 10 shots in the game, including six by Sparks.
Manny Garcia led Mercy with 13 points while Colin Senior tallied 12. The Flyers shot 33.3 percent from the floor in the game and hit 8-of-15 free throws.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, January 6 when it returns home to The Complex to host Carver Bible at 7:30 p.m.