ROME, Ga. (VALDOSTA STATE ATHLETICS) — The Valdosta State men's basketball team overcame a strong upset effort from Shorter to defeat the Hawks Thursday night, 76-66. With this win, the Blazers continued their five-game winning streak and improved to 13-6 overall and 9-4 in Gulf South Conference play.'
Blazer senior Cam Hamilton led the way with a game high 19 points, while senior Jacolbey Owens added 16 and graduate student Maurice Gordon chipped in 14. Junior Jay Rucker added ten points on a perfect 4 of 4 from the field and converted his one triple. VSU shot 26 of 58 from the field for 44.8 percent, while it was 11 of 26 from beyond the arc and 13 of 24 from the free throw line. The Blazers had 31 rebounds and 13 assists.
Valdosta State started off the game on a 7-1 run capped off by a three-point shot from Gordon with 17:17 left in the first half. From there, the Blazers continued to tack onto their lead after a layup from senior Mohamed Fofana for a 17-9 lead with 12:29 left to play in the first half. Shorter (3-14, 1-10 GSC) used an 8-0 run to tie the game 17-17 with 9:27 remaining in the first half.
The final stretch of the first half would prove to be a dog fight for both teams as the Blazers and Hawks remained in a close one down the stretch of the half. In a crucial moment, VSU pulled forward thanks to a pair of free throws from sophomore Caden Boser for a 25-22 lead with 5:58 remaining. However, SU's Ricky Knight, Jr., quickly put up a game-tying shot from deep at the five-minute mark to tie the game at 25. The Blazers fought back, using a 12-4 run wrapped up by a shot from downtown courtesy of Owens for a 37-29 lead at the half.
The Blazers came out of the half determined to add to their lead as Hamilton kicked off the scoring for VSU with a deep trey and a 40-29 with 18:49 remaining. Once again, the Hawks continued to keep the game close after a pair of layups from Jaden Dunham and Carter Selman, brining the game within six at 50-44 with 13:32 left to go.
VSU continued to keep its foot on the gas after a critical three-point bucket from Owens and a 59-49 lead at the 11:30 mark. Later in the half, a monstrous slam from Gordon continued Valdosta State's offensive attack as the Blazers led 63-51 with 7:48 to play. The Hawks began to close the margin in the final minutes highlighted by a four-point play from Knight, Jr., for a 67-63 score, with 3:18 to go. Despite a narrow lead, Valdosta State remained composed and ended Shorter's upset bid with a critical layup from Hamilton and three-point dagger from graduate student Ryan Black for a 72-63 advantage with 44 seconds remaining and went on for a 76-66 victory.
Shorter finished 24 of 64 for 37.5 percent and was 5 of 24 from distance, while going 13 of 20 from the line. The Hawks were led by Chris Brown, Jr., with 14, followed closely behind by Knight, Jr., with 13 and Dunham tacked on 11.
The Blazers continue on the road Saturday as they travel to Lee to face off in another crucial Gulf South Conference matchup. Game time is set for 4 p.m., and fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming and more at vstateblazer.com on the men's basketball schedule page. Spencer Van Horn will have the call of the game on 92.1 WDDQ FM in Valdosta and www.talk921.com.