CLEVELAND, Miss. - Valdosta State shot just 36.4 percent from the field and was out-rebounded 45-27 as the Blazers fell 77-61 to Delta State in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at Sillers Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
With the loss, the Blazers fell to 17-9 overall and 9-9 in GSC play while Delta State improved to 11-15 and 7-11.
The game remained close for the first nine minutes of play, which featured seven lead changes and three ties. Delta State eventually grabbed control of the game with a 7-0 run, a span that saw VSU miss all five of its shot attempts.
Valdosta State fought back to eventually take a 30-29 lead on a Josh Sparks lay-up with 2:26 to play in the first half, but the Statesmen answered with a Matt Albritton three-pointer on its next possession and eventually claimed a 35-31 halftime lead.
DSU opened the second half on an 18-5 run to increase its lead to double digits. After making two of its first three shots of the half, Valdosta State missed its next five shots and committed three turnovers durnig the span, that ended with the Statesmen holding a 53-36 lead with 14:27 to play in the game.
The Blazers closed to within 10 points two minutes later, but got no closer the remainder of the game.
Sparks led Valdosta State with 21 points as he made 8-of-11 shots and 5-of-7 free throws. However, the remainder of the team made just 12-of-44 attempts. Shaquille Harris also finished in double digits with 11.
Cornell Knight led five Statesmen in double figures with 21 while Terry Leake added 15 and Zelvin Smith 13. Delta State shot 49.2 percent from the floor in the game.
Valdosta State returns to action Friday when it opens play in the Gulf South Conference Tournament.