MEMPHIS, Tenn. (VALDOSTA STATE) — Behind a team-high 23 points from Valdosta State junior guard Jacolbey Owens and a valiant second-half shooting percentage, the Blazer men's basketball team fell short, 81-74, at Christian Brothers Thursday night in Memphis, Tenn. Three Blazers finished the game in double figures.
VSU fell to 9-8 on the season and 5-5 in the Gulf South Conference, while the Bucs improved to 6-11 on the year and 3-8 in the GSC.
Christian brothers jumped out to a quick start in the first half, with Opong Brambie and Christian Jones getting two quick shots off. Blazer junior forward Maurice Gordon buried a trey for the Blazers courtesy of a freshman Ricky Brown assist for a 4-3 deficit with 18:12 left in the half.
The Bucs used a five-point run with a layup from Daniel Loos and a triple from Aiden Ruthsatz to push CBU ahead of the Blazers 12-6. VSU fought back with a six-point run sparked by junior forward Mohamed Fofana and a three-pointer from redshirt freshman guard Jeremy Golson to knot the game at 12 with 11:52 left in the first half.
Following a timeout from Blazer head coach Mike Helfer, the Blazers built a slight lead from a pull-up jumper by Golson for a 15-12 lead. However, the lead was short-lived as CBU built a 10-point lead over five minutes of action.
VSU ended the first half trailing the Bucs 38-24. The Blazers had a 36% field goal percentage, going 9 of 25 from the field and 3 of 12 (25%) outside the arc. The Bucs forced the Blazers into 11 turnovers, allowing CBU to capitalize on 20 points off turnovers. VSU picked up three offensive rebounds, along with 13 defensive rebounds and 19 bench points.
Out of the locker room, redshirt junior guard Cam Hamilton sunk a trey courtesy of Owens to pull within 40-27. After a spell of coast-to-coast action, Gordon cut the lead to eight, 40-48 via an alley-oop dunk via Brown with 14:50 left remaining, but the Bucs quickly responded with a pull-up jumper from Jesse Payne.
Christian Brothers built its largest lead of 16 points with 8:09 left to play from made free throws by Luke Gdowski and Keeving Etenne at 64-48, but the Blazers started to chip away at CBU's lead with 7:17 left to play from a layup by Owens assisted by sophomore guard Cam Selders.
Searching for a comeback win, VSU brought CBU's lead back within four from a dunk by junior forward Michael Cole, assisted by Owens for a 71-67 deficit with 2:14 minutes left to play. Christian Brothers went on a 4-0 run to round out the game and a final score of 81-74.
The Blazers improved their field-goal percentage in the second half to 64.3%, going 18 of 28 from the field, but were 1 of 8 from (12.5%) from outside the arc.
For the game, the Blazers shot 50.9% overall from the field and 4 of 20 (20%) beyond the arc. The Blazers had a 69.6% free-throw percentage, along with five offensive rebounds and 25 defensive rebounds. The Bucs forced Valdosta State into 17 turnovers, while CBU had 14 for the game. VSU capitalized on 13 points off of turnovers had 19 bench points and six-second chance points.
The Blazers were led by Owens, who had 23 points, five assists, six rebounds and a pair of steals and went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Cole and Gordon also finished in double-figures, putting up 15 and 14 points, respectfully. Selders had five assists on the night, while Cole also had six rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
CBU was led by Nick Deifel, with 21 points on the night. Christian Jones had a team-high seven rebounds, while also having a perfect free-throw percentage (2 of 2) along with teammates Deifel (6 of 6) and Aiden Ruthsatz (3 of 3).
The Blazers continue their road trip in the Volunteer State with at Union on January 22 at 5 p.m. ET, in Jackson, Tenn., before returning to TitleTown to host West Florida for the second meeting with the Argos this season.
On the men's basketball schedule page, fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information, and more at vstateblazers.com. The game against Union will be broadcasted on 92.1 WDDQ FM, with Spencer Van Horn having the call.