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Big first half leads Blazers to key 87-71 victory against Alabama Huntsville

Posted at 11:20 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 00:14:08-05

VALDOSTA, Ga. (vstateblazers.com) — Behind 51 points and 10 three-pointers in the first half of action, including six from freshman Ricky Brown, the Valdosta State men's basketball team posted a thrilling 87-71 victory over visiting Alabama Huntsville Thursday evening at The Complex. Brown finished the game with 26 points, tying his career-high, while sophomore Michael Cole finished with 25 points and junior Cam Hamilton added 17 points to the score sheet.

For the game, VSU (11-9, 7-6 GSC) shot 53.6 percent on 30 of 56 from the floor, 12 of 32 from deep and 15 of 20 from the line. The 12 made triples tied the season-high set against Montevallo on Dec. 18, 2021 and the 53.6 percent shooting marked the seventh time this season VSU has shot better than 50 percent. VSU forced UAH into 16 turnovers and held a 22-15 lead in points off miscues.

Brown went 9 of 15 from the field and a career-best 7 of 13 from beyond the arc, while going 1 of 1 from the line tying his season-high set against Auburn Montgomery on Dec. 20, 2021. Cole finished 10 of 13 from the field, 5 of 7 from the line and pulled down 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and fifth game of double-digit rebounds this season. Hamilton also had a great game 6 of 18 from the field, 4 of 14 from deep and 1 of 2 from the line.

UAH (13-9, 6-7 GSC) was led by 20 points from CJ Williamson on 7 of 10 from the field, 2 of 3 from deep and 4 of 5 from the line with seven rebounds. Chaney Johnson added 14 points and Luke Burnett chipped in 13. The Chargers finished 25 of 60 from the field for 41.7 percent, while they were 8 of 26 from beyond the arc and 13 of 16 from the line.

The Chargers opened the game on an 8-2 start, but Hamilton buried a triple of his own and stole the pass for an easy score from junior Jacolbey Owens, pulling VSU with 8-7 and 15:25 remaining in the first half.

Cole gave VSU a 9-8 lead out of a media timeout and Owens hit Brown for a triple and a 12-8 lead. After a bucket from UAH, Hamilton buried a deep one for a 15-10 lead as both teams started heating up offensively.

Back-to-back triples from Hamilton gave VSU a 20-10 lead with 11:37 left in the half and an 18-2 run since the 16:51 mark. Out of a timeout by the Chargers, a hoop from Johnson ended the spurt and a 20-12 VSU lead.

A steal from Brown and score pushed the VSU lead back to ten at 22-12 with ten minutes left in the first half. VSU opened the game 8 of 17 from the field to that point, while UAH was 5 of 13. The Blazers began 4 of 11 from deep for the first ten minutes.

Five points from the Chargers pulled UAH within 22-17 with nine minutes left in the half, but Owens drained a triple as the shot clock expired and a 25-17 score for the fifth triple of the half for VSU. Brown continued the strong play from beyond the arc giving VSU a 28-17 lead and 7:47 left in the half.

Cole's steal and dunk made the score 30-17, but UAH's Daniel Saylor's dunk at the other end, followed by a technical foul for hanging on the rim as VSU scored the free throw for a 31-19 lead. Following two misses by the Chargers, Brown nailed two more 3's for a 37-19 score. Brown then hit another trey for his third-straight possession and a 40-21 lead with just over five minutes left in the half, bringing the crowd of 923 to a deafening level. Junior Mohamed Fofana pushed the lead to 21 at 42-21 off an offensive rebound and Brown drilled his sixth triple of the half and a 45-21 lead with 4:38 left in the half. VSU outscored UAH 17-4 since the 7:47 mark.

Back-to-back buckets from the Chargers pulled UAH to within 17 at 47-30 with under a minute left in the first half. Cole had the answer in the paint for a 49-30 advantage and Cole scored just before the buzzer, pushing the lead to 51-30 at intermission.

In an incredible first half, VSU went 19 of 34 from the field and 10 of 23 from deep, while going 3 of 3 from the line for the 21-point cushion. Brown was unconscious from the field in the half, going 7 of 10 and 6 of 9 from deep with one free throw for 21 points and his six triples marked a career-high. Hamilton had 11 points in the half and three triples.

UAH was 12 of 29 from the field for 41.4 percent, while it was 2 of 10 from deep and 4 of 6 from the line. VSU held a 22-12 lead in rebounding and both teams had six turnovers, with VSU leading 9-5 in points off turnovers. Johnson paced the Chargers with 12 points for the half, including 4 of 6 from the line.

Burnett marked the first points of the second half with a 3 and then a turnover and score from Johnson pulled UAH within 51-35 with 18:01 left. Max Shulman buried a triple for an 8-0 run and a timeout by the Blazers with 17:11 left, with VSU leading 51-38.

One of two free throws from Williamson and an offensive foul on the Blazers gave the ball to UAH and Burnett hit another trey for a 12-0 run to start the half and 15:44 remaining for a 51-42 score. Cole hit one of two free throws out of the media timeout ending the run. A steal from Hamilton and score pushed the lead back to double-digits at 54-42.

Williamson earned the "and one" cutting the UAH deficit under ten, once again, at 54-45 with 14 minutes left. On the third offensive rebound, Williamson scored inside for a 54-47 VSU lead. UAH scored off another offensive rebound for a 19-5 start to the second half and a 56-49 score. Cole hit a turn around jumper for a 58-49 score and 12:25 left. Cole finished the "and one" for a 61-49 lead with under 12 minutes to go. Brown scored his first points of the second half on a nice pass from sophomore Cam Selders for a 63-49 lead, but a triple and steal and score from Williams cut the lead to nine at 63-54 with under 11 minutes to play.

Hamilton drained his fourth one from deep in transition for a 66-54 lead, but Shulman scored and was fouled on a 3-pointer pulling UAH within 66-58 and 9:16 left. A dunk from Cole and assist from Hamilton pushed the lead to 70-58 with 7:12 remaining in the second half, but Jack Kostel answered with one from distance and a 71-61 score. Cole again had a flush from Hamilton and a 73-61 lead with under six minutes to play.

Brown nailed his first triple of the half, on an assist from Selders, for a 76-63 lead with 5:15 left. It was just the second made 3-pointer of the half for VSU as the Blazers had ten in the first. The VSU defense stood tall, forcing an offensive foul on Johnson with 3:44 left as VSU led 78-67. Nice passing from Brown to Cole for the flush and an 80-67 lead. A goaltending call on the Blazers and a steal and foul gave UAH two tosses, making both for an 80-71 score and 2:44 to play.

Hamilton was fouled on a missed triple from Brown with 1:37 left as Hamilton made one of two free throws for an 83-71 lead. A missed triple from UAH and foul sent Selders to the line with VSU looking to ice the game at the stripe. Selders made one of two at the line for an 84-71 score.

The Blazers continue at home on Saturday at 4 p.m. at The Complex versus West Alabama.