CLEVELAND, Ms. — In a game of runs, the No. 13 Valdosta State men's basketball team had the last one as it posted a 72-67 win at Delta State on Saturday afternoon. VSU won its Gulf South Conference-best 13th-straight game and improved to 20-3 on the year, marking the fourth-straight season of 20 or more wins and seventh under the direction of head coach Mike Helfer.
The Blazers (20-3, 14-2 GSC) used a 13-0 run for a 57-42 lead with over nine minutes to play as DSU went ice cold during the span, not scoring a point in a staggering 9:37 of game time, capped by a trey from senior Tyler Edwards with 9:05 left.
Delta State then answered the VSU run with a 15-0 run of its own over a span of 3:14 for a 57-57 score with 4:40 remaining. A trey from Keshaun Overstreet put the Statesmen up 60-58 with 4:14 left as DSU used an 18-1 run to lead for the first time since the opening bucket of the game.
VSU senior Darrell Jones, who had a game-high 24 points and 10 of 12 from the line, tied the game at 60 with two free throws with three minutes remaining. Following a miss from DSU, senior Bryce Smith put VSU up 62-6 as the Blazers used a 10-0 run for a 68-60 lead with 26 seconds left. VSU went on for the 72-67 victory as Jones scored 10 of the final 14 points of the game for the Blazers.
Along with Jones, sophomore Imoras Agee scored 11 points and six rebounds, while Smith added ten points and a team-high seven rebounds. VSU shot 43.4 percent for the game on 23 of 53 from the field, while going 5 of 14 from beyond the arc and 21 of 31 from the line, including 13 of 19 from the stripe in the second half.
The Statesmen (9-16, 5-12 GSC) had 18 points from Overstreet on 6 of 16 from the field, 3 of 9 from range and 3 of 4 from the line, leading four players in double figures. Leading scorer Airen Brooks was held to nine points and fouled out, but recorded 12 rebounds in the game. DSU shot 28 of 59 from the field for 47.5 percent, while going 6 of 17 from range, but really struggled from the line at just 5 of 14.
The Blazers opened the game with a 15-6 spurt through the first six minutes of the contest. Brooks pulled DSU within 21-17 on a triple with 9:44 left and Savvas Georgiadis pulled the home team within a bucket on the ensuing possession.
Later in the half, Brooks pulled DSU within four again, but VSU stretched the lead back out to as many as eight as Jones scored the final bucket of the frame for a 40-32 lead at intermission.
Early in the second, DSU pulled within 40-38, but Jones had the answer with a bucket as the teams traded scores to a 44-42 VSU lead prior to the big runs for the remainder of the game.
The Blazers return home to host Montevallo and West Alabama on Thursday and Saturday at 8 and 4 p.m., respectively, in the regular season home finale. Saturday is Senior Day prior to the West Alabama game.