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Blazer still stayin’ alive

 The Valdosta State Blazers and Lady Blazers continued their longest winning streaks of the season this past week as both teams defeated West Alabama and Alabama-Huntsville.
 The Lady Blazers rolled to a convincing win against the West Alabama Tigers when they met at the Complex on Jan. 21 for a Gulf South Conference showdown. The Lady Blazers had strong shooting on the night by  Leschelle Matthews who recorded a season high in points with 19, as she led all Lady Blazers in scoring.
 The Blazers also rolled to a convincing 92-55 win, when they met West Alabama. The big win for the Blazers was thanks to a strong performance early in the game as the Blazers recorded 15 of the first 20 points scored on the night. The Blazers pushed their lead over 20 points within the first 10 seconds of the second half as Charles Belton hit a wide open field goal which brought the Complex crowd to their feet.    The win was the first game since the Blazers had defeated the no. 1 team in the nation on the previous Saturday.
 “I was proud with how we started the game,”  Mike Helfer, VSU Head Coach, said. “We were into it physically, we were into it mentally and you could just see that we were determined to not have a letdown  after the Augusta State game.”
 Both teams faced Alabama-Huntsville on Jan. 23 at the Complex. The games versus Alabama-Huntsville were the sixth games in only 14 days for both VSU teams.
 Fatigue was an early indicator of the struggles that were experienced by the Lady Blazers, according to Head Coach Kiley Hill. The Lady Blazers found themselves shooting just 20 percent in the first half as they found themselves tied at the half, 20-20, with a depleted UAH team.
 Despite the first half struggles by VSU, the Lady Blazers managed to shoot 46 percent in the second half while they held the Lady Chargers to only 38 percent.  The Lady Blazers’ pulled away in the final minutes to a 61-49 win.
 The win was the seventh straight win for the Lady Blazers and was also their fourth GSC win of the season. The Lady Blazers are the only remaining undefeated team in the Gulf South Conference Eastern Division.
 The Blazers also struggled in the opening minutes against Alabama-Huntsville. The Chargers came out of the gates quick, as they connected on six of their first seven 3-point field goals. Despite missing only five shots in the first half, Alabama-Huntsville held only a six point lead at halftime, as the Blazers managed to keep the game close thanks to the bench play of newly added player Kevin Harris, who led the Blazers in scoring on the night.
 The Blazers took the lead in the second half with a strong defensive play as Senior All-American Tyrone Curnell racked up four steals in the game. He led the strong defensive play in the half as the Blazers held on for the 85-76 win.
The win is the tenth straight win for the Blazers as they now stand as the only undefeated team in the GSC Eastern Division. The Blazers also moved to the 6th place ranking in the NABC Division II Coaches Poll.
 Both teams will be in action on Saturday when they visit Carrolton, Ga., to face West Georgia. Read about the game and read what both coaches have to say about the game at VSUspectator.com.

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