VALDOSTA, Ga. – West Georgia used an 11-0 run over a three minute span as the Wolves defeated Valdosta State 77-76 in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at The Complex Saturday evening in front of 3,175 fans, the third-largest crowd in school history.
With the victory, UWG improves to 17-3 overall and 4-2 in GSC play while VSU falls to 7-9 and 1-5 in league action.
The Blazers played the game with just eight players as usual starter Tristan Steele was out with a shoulder injury while fellow starter Josh Sparks, who is second in the nation in blocked shots, was out due to illness.
Valdosta State led 60-55 with 7:32 to play when West Georgia began its run. Quincy Hill connected on a three-pointer to open the spurt before Gavin Field added a trifecta. Hill proceeded to feed Da'Ron Sims for a basket underneath and Field added a second three to force a Blazer timeout with 4:27 to play.
Chris Rozier ended the VSU drought with a basket with 3:01 remaining and, after a Sims free throw and a basket in the lane by Hill, Michael Panaggio hit a three-pointer from the right corner to pull VSU within 69-65.
Sims added another basket in the lane to once again push the West Georgia advantage to six points, only to have Sidney Harris follow with a trifecta to pull the Blazers to within 71-68. The teams traded field goals before West Georgia hit four free throws in the final 15 seconds to stave off a pair of threes by Panaggio.
Valdosta State started out hot as the Blazers connected on its first six field goal attempts. West Georgia kept the game close as it connected on three three-pointers during the first three minutes of the game as Valdosta State built a 14-8 advantage.
The Blazers maintained their advantage for the next 10 minutes of the contest, at one point seeing their advantage grow to as much as 23-15, before West Georgia used an 10-3 run to close to within 26-25 with 5:45 to play in the first half.
Neither team scored over the ensuing three minutes until Sims gave the Wolves their first lead of the night with a pair of free throws with just over three minutes to go in the half. The remainder of the first 20 minutes of play featured three lead changes and two ties, the second coming when UWG's Ryan Godfrey hit a three at the halftime buzzer for a 32-32 score.
The two teams continued to trade blows early in the second half, with West Georgia grabbing a 45-42 lead with 14:00 remaining in the contest before the Blazers fought back for a 50-47 advantage two minutes later.
Valdosta State connected on 30-of-54 field goal attempts to shoot 56.6 percent from the floor in the game. Panaggio led the Blazers with 21 points while Harris tallied 15, Drew Maynard 14 and Will Alston 13.
Sims led all scorers with 34 points as he connected on 13-of-22 field goal attempts in the contest. Field added 14 and Hill 11 for the Wolves, who shot 50.8 percent in the game and committed just four turnovers.
Valdosta State returns to action Tuesday, January 24 when it steps out of GSC play to host Carver Bible at 7:30 p.m. in The Complex.