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Blazers Upend Warhawks on the Road, 77-71; Hamilton Sets School-Record for Career Steals

Blazers Upend Warhawks on the Road, 77-71; Hamilton Sets School-Record for Career Steals
Posted at 9:52 PM, Dec 31, 2022

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (VSU ATHLETICS) — Trailing by as many as nine points with 14:14 left, the Valdosta State men's basketball team rallied for a 77-71 victory at Auburn Montgomery Saturday evening. The Blazers improved to 9-6 overall and 5-4 in Gulf South Conference play, while AUM fell to 6-8 and 4-6 in league play. Blazer senior Cam Hamilton set the school-record for career steals with three thefts in the game and 178 for his career.

Down 53-44 in the second half, Blazer senior Jacolbey Owens began the rally with a dunk sparking a 10-0 run for a 55-53 score capped with a layup from sophomore Caden Boser with 8:45 to play. Senior Mohamed Fofana put VSU up 60-59 with 7:01 to go, but a jumper from James Graham gave the lead back to the Warhawks at 61-60 with 5:41 to go. Two free throws from junior Jay Rucker gave VSU the lead for good with 5:17 to play as Owens followed with a layup for a 64-61 score as VSU used a 6-0 run for a 66-61 score with 3:51 to go.

Two free throws from AUM's Joseph Lanzi pulled the Warhawks within 69-64 with 1:50 to play, but Fofana answered with a layup for his 15th point. AUM's Sam Youngblood buried a triple off his own offensive rebound for a 71-67 deficit and just over a minute to play, but graduate transfer Ryan Black buried his first bucket of the game for a 73-67 score. A bucket from Lanzi pulled AUM within four, once again, with 37 seconds left but Owens knocked down two tosses at the other end for a 75-69 score. AUM would get within four again at 75-71, but senior Maurice Gordon was clutch at the line with two tosses for a 77-71 score and eight seconds to go for the final margin.

VSU finished 26 of 59 from the field for 44.1 percent, while it was 4 of 17 from beyond the arc and 21 of 31 from the line. AUM shot 39.4 percent on 26 of 66 from the field, while it was 6 of 23 from deep and 13 of 14 from the line. AUM held a 42-37 lead in rebounding, while the game saw nine ties and 18 lead changes.

The Blazers had five players in double figures led by 15 points from Fofana as he was 5 of 7 from the field and 5 of 7 from the line with four rebounds. Owens finished with 13 points on 3 of 8 from the field and 7 of 11 from the line. Hamilton set the school-record for career steals with three in the game and 12 points on 4 of 10 from the field, 2 of 6 from deep and 2 of 3 from the line. Hamilton entered with 175 career thefts, passing school-record holder Marlon Jones' (1982-87) record of 176 as Hamilton now has 178 steals for his VSU career.

AUM finished with four players in double figures led by a game-high 18 points from Lanzi on 6 of 11 from the field, 2 of 3 from deep and 4 of 4 from the line. Jalen Gaston finished with 16 points on 4 of 18 from the field, 2 of 9 from beyond the arc and 6 of 6 from the stripe.

Lanzi put AUM up 21-18 with 9:33 to play in the first half on a pull up jumper and Youngblood pushed the lead to 23-18 on a layup, but a jumper from junior Mike Isler cut the deficit to 23-20 on the ensuing possession and Hamilton later scored inside for a 23-22 deficit.

Later a layup from Boser put VSU up 30-29 with 5:37 to play in the half and two free throws from Fofana stretched the lead to 32-29 with 4:29 remaining in the first half. Gordon later buried a triple with 3:26 to play and a 35-31 score, but AUM scored the final four points of the half for a 35-35 score at the break.

Lanzi put AUM up 50-43 with 15:06 to play in the second half with a triple as AUM broke a 39-39 score with an 11-4 run prior to the comeback by the Blazers.

VSU continues on the road at Montevallo, who won a 115-113 thriller over West Florida on Saturday, as the Blazers and Falcons square off Monday at 5 p.m. ET. VSU returns home to host Alabama Huntsville on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. at The Complex.