VALDOSTA, Ga. - Josh Sparks and James Anacreon, a pair of seniors playing in their final home game, combined for 37 points and 19 rebounds to lead Valdosta State to an 86-81 overtime victory in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at The Complex Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, Valdosta State improved to 17-7 overall and 9-7 in GSC play while West Florida fell to 12-12 and 7-9.
Anacreon tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds in the game while Sparks added 20 points and nine rebounds. The duo was especially impressive down the stretch and in the overtime period as, with VSU trailing by three with 14 seconds to go in regulation, Anacreon grabbed a rebound, hit a bucket and was fouled. His ensuing free throw forced the overtime period. Meanwhile, Sparks scored eight of VSU's 13 overtime points to seal the victory.
The first half of the game was a see-saw affair as the score was tied nine times and changed hands on five occasions. Neither team led by more than four during the span as VSU's largest lead came at 10-6 seven minutes into the game while the Argonauts built a 25-21 lead 10 minutes later before grabbing a 29-25 halftime lead.
West Florida controlled the majority of the second half as they scored the first four points of the frame and eventually built a 61-47 lead with 10 minutes to go before Valdosta State began its comeback.
Anacreon opened the Blazer run with a pair of put-back buckets before adding a dunk on a fast break. Patrick Diop added a jumper and Shaquille Harris hit a three-pointer to pull VSU within 61-58.
Ellis Young answered with a bucket for UWF and, after Sparks scored for the Blazers, Nate Johnson hit a three, but Aancreon hit a pair of free throws and came up with a steal and fed Alan Love for a bucket to tie the game. Harrris added a lay-up off a steal on the next West Florida position to give Valdosta State a 68-66 lead with 3:18 to go.
The Argonauts scored the next six points of the game to regain the advantage, setting up the Anacreon three-point play to force the overtime.
Sparks opened the overtime period with a bucket for VSU, but West Florida responded with four straight to grab its only lead of the final five minutes. Diop answered teh lead with a jumper in the lane and scored off a Sparks steal to put VSU back in front before feeding Love for a dunk. West Florida got no closer than two points the rest of the way as Sparks hit a lay-up and four free throws to seal the victory.
Diop tallied 18 points for Valdosta State while Harris added 10. VSU shot 43.4 percent from the floor in the game as it made 33-of-76 shots, but made 23-of-49 (46.7 percent) in the final 25 minutes. The Blazers owned a 44-42 advantage in rebounding and had 13 steals and six blocked shots in the game.
Johnson led UWF with 19 points while Peter Connole had 18, including four three-pointers in the second half. Lendward Griffin added 15 and Ellis Young 12. The Arognauts shot 44.4 percent from the field and made all 11 of their free throw attemps.
Valdosta State returns to action Thursday, February 28 at 8:00 p.m. when it takes on Christian Brothers in Memphis, Tenn.