VALDOSTA, Ga. – Despite playing without the Gulf South Conference's leading scorer for the final 23 minutes of the game, Valdosta State used a second half surge to defeat West Georgia 83-76 in GSC men's basketball action at The Complex Saturday night.
VSU's Kevin Harris, who entered the contest averaging 18.5 points per game, suffered an injury while leading a fast break during the first half and left the game having scored nine in the contest. His teammates picked him up as the Blazers connected on 16-of-27 second half shots to shoot 59.3 percent from the floor in the frame.
Valdosta State (19-7, 6-4) scored seven of the first eight points of the second half to grab the lead. After West Georgia (14-10, 5-5) opened the frame with a free throw, Billy McShepard got a put-back basket to tie the game while Sidney Harris hit a three to give VSU the lead. McShepard closed out the run with a jumper to give VSU a 46-41 lead.
The Wolves scored the next five points of the game to once again even the contest, but Harris hit two more trifectas and Christian Hunter added two more to push the Blazer lead to 58-51 with 13:53 remaining in the game.
West Georgia once again fought back to take a 62-61 advantage on a Da'Ron Sims jumper with 10:00 remaining and built a 66-61 lead two minutes later only to have the Blazers score the next eight points for the sixth lead change of the game.
A three-pointer by Gavin Field tied the game for the sixth time, but Martrez Scott hit a tear-drop jumper in the lane and McShepard got a dunk off of an offensive rebound before Scott hit two out of four free throws to build a 75-69 Blazer lead with 3:16 to play in the contest.
West Georgia got to within 75-74 with two minutes to play, but did not score again until a basket with less than 30 seconds remaining.
The first half was closely contested as neither team led by more than five points in the frame. The score was tied five times and the lead changed hands three different times during the first half. West Georgia grabbed a five point advantage three times in the frame while VSU led by four on four different occasions.
After Valdosta State built a 25-21 lead with 10:49 remaining in the first half, the Wolves used a 13-4 run to grab a lead it would hold the remainder of the half. Valdosta State fought back and closed to a point on a pair of Josh Sparks free throws with 1:08 remaining in the frame to cut the UWG lead to 40-39 at the halftime intermission.
VSU shot 46.9 percent from the floor during the first 20 minutes as it connected on 15-of-32 shots while West Georgia scored on 14-of-34 to shoot 41.2 percent.
Sidney Harris led Valdosta State with 17 points in the game as he connected on five of his eight three pointers. Hunter, who also hit five threes, finished with 15 while McShepard registered his eighth double-double of the year with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Sparks just missed a double-double as he scored eight points while grabbing 13 rebounds, including 12 on the defensive end of the court.
Valdosta State shot 52.5 percent from the floor in the game as it hit 31-of-59 shots, including 11-of-28 threes. The Blazers dominated the boards as they owned a 46-32 advantage in rebounding in the game.
Six different Wolves scored in double figures in the game, led by Deion Sims with 15. UWG shot 42.4 percent from the floor in the game and committed just seven turnovers while recording eight steals on 18 VSU turnovers.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, February 24 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern when it travels to Pensacola, Fla. To face West Florida in GSC action.