Bribing the Blazers isn’t the way to go.
On Saturday, the Blazers (7-0) got into their stances and suffocated the Bucs (5-2) from tip off, leading to an 84-71 win. Christian Brothers could not buy a basket as every shot was contested heavily.
The Blazers covered every centimeter of the floor as they flew around defensively. The Bucs’ trademark Princeton-style offense was short-lived with the Blazers having a hand in nearly every passing lane, closing off backdoor screens and seeing their plays before it happened.
Beau Justice served as the technician on the floor from opening tip, telling his teammates where to go and being in position to start fast breaks.
“I took my scouting outside of what my coaches did, so I can have the edge on the floor,” Justice said, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the matchup. “With any Princeton-style system, Coach (Mike Helfer) always emphasizes the importance of communicating on the floor.”
According to Justice, the communicating was specifically emphasized “on the defense end.” On offense, they were just as in sync with each other.
With 6:03 left on the clock going into halftime, the Bucs Joe Laravie was blocked on a lay up attempt by Clay Guillozet. Justice grabbed the rebound and passes it to an open Desmond DeRamus.
DeRamus dribbled expediently toward the basket for a potential layup, yet Justice was trailing down to the three-point line. He kicks it out to Justice for a wide open three-point score.
This play showed how much trust and chemistry the Blazers have, even when communication isn’t needed on the floor. DeRamus felt Justice’s score was the better option, make or miss.
“Three is better than two, so I felt with him being one of the best shooters I have ever seen,” Deramus said. “I would be crazy not to give him the ball in that situation. If Justice gets an open shot, we are taking it every time.”
The shot was mandatory in the mind of Justice.
“Any time we are in transition and they see me open, my teammates pass it to me for a reason,” Justice said. “I learned that me not taking that shot interrupts the flow and rhythm of our offense. Make or miss, it is the flow of our game, so I had no choice but to deliver.”
Winston Morgan was on the floor during the play and he believes the moment was a testament to how good the Blazers are.
“Beau Justice is one of the greatest shooters I have ever seen in my life, so for him to shoot that, its pretty much a layup for him,” Morgan said, who added 15 points off five three-pointers on the night. “That play just shows how effective we are in giving the crowd a show. We enjoy that, so every chance we get to do it, we will.”
The Blazers managed their lead in the second half, with simple play making, dishing out 20 assists and finishing with just five turnovers. DeRamus notched a season-high eight rebounds.
Against the Bucs, the Blazers started Justice, Morgan, DeRamus, Guillozet, and Darrell Jones. With Greg Zuppas out with a sprained knee, suffered Thursday against Union, the Blazers were able to dissect Christian Brothers’ defense with speed, smart cutting and three-point shooting.
“We started four guards tonight and Jones, which I think was a good lineup because they are a very organized and methodical team.” Justice said. “From the Union game to now, we knew we had to get into the passing lanes more and force turnovers. Once we got those steals, we were off to the races. Especially with four guards, we can get up and down the floor for easy layups and threes”
Adam Dieball had a quiet night for the Bucs, but the stat sheet spoke for itself. Dieball came one assist shy of a triple-double in the loss –– finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The 6-foot-9-inch forward shot 6-of-12 overall and 4-of-6 from the free throw line in 35 minutes of play, despite being heckled with three first-half fouls.
Dieball ranks No. 1 in the Gulf South Conference for assists with eight per game. Justice praised the senior forward’s game.
“He does so much for CBU,” Justice said. “I honestly did not know he was one assist away from a triple-double. That just speaks to how good he is, really.”
VSU has completed their five-game home stand and will go on the road to face Tuskegee on Saturday, Dec. 8.
The last time these two played, the Blazers won 93-81 on Nov. 13 at the Complex. Justice erupted for a season-high 30 points – adding seven rebounds and seven assists. Also, the Blazers dominated in the rebounding game, collecting 40 to the Golden Tigers’ 27.
The game is slated to begin at 4 p.m. ET
Written by Prince Robinson Jr., Sports Editor. Photo Courtesy of VSU Athletics.
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