VSU men’s basketball would not be handed defeat once more. They avoided consecutive losses and defeated West Alabama 83-66 last night.
“Coach instilled on us that we needed a sense of urgency, that we needed to complete games, and compete and last Saturday against West Georgia, we didn’t complete the game, we let it slip away,” Brandon Klunder, guard, said. “We were able to do a lot of things different, we were able to finally get that sense of urgency that we need because it’s crunch time now.”
The win came without the Blazers’ top-scorer and shooting guard, Tristan Steele.
“We had some guys step up, obviously Paul Hagler stepped up, Will Olson stepped up and then Kevin played out of his mind, played great and I thought Christian Hunter played well,” Head Coach Mike Helfer, said. “It was a good team win.”
Preceding last night’s victory, the Blazers dropped only their fifth game of the season in a close 80-75 loss to West Georgia this past Saturday in Carrollton, Ga.
The Blazers came out strong in the first half, scoring 58.3 percent of their shots from the field to the Wolves 36.4. VSU was also strong from beyond the arc, posting eight 3-pointers in the first half.
West Georgia came out after halftime with determination. Deion Sims scored five points shortly after starting the second period to give UWG the lead.
Teammate Galvin Field took over from there. The junior from Australia scored eleven points in a four-minute stretch to give his squad the momentum.
The duo of Sims and Field went on a 10-2 run before VSU Head Coach Mike Helfer took a timeout with 7:29 remaining. At this point, Valdosta State was trailing, 72-61.
Blazer Josh Sparks stepped up after the timeout and went on a 6-0 in a three-minute span to bring the Blazers within six points with a little over three minutes to go.
Later in the half, Sparks connected with senior Christian Hunter, who hit a three-point shot to bring the score to 76-75 in favor of the Wolves.
Sims responded by sinking two free throws with 20 seconds remaining. Hunter looked quick to retaliate and ran down court for a late three-point attempt. The ball went in the basket, but catastrophically rolled out and West Georgia went on to seal the victory.
Turnovers played a huge role in the outcome of the defeat for VSU. The Blazers gave up the ball 18 times throughout the game and gave up a total of 22 points on them. Because the Wolves managed to only give the ball away ten times, they had the advantage.
Valdosta State now drops to 16-5 overall and 3-2 within the Gulf South Conference. They played host to West Alabama Wednesday night at the Complex, but the outcome was decided after the Spectator went to press.
Monday will feature a huge matchup for the Blazers, as they will travel to play Alabama-Huntsville, who is currently ranked No. 5 in Division II.