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Valdosta State basketball ends weekend series against West Georgia with wins

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 22:34:12-05

VALDOSTA, Ga. - (vstatebazers.com) — MEN

The No. 16 Blazers bounce back from yesterday's loss against West Georgia and took the Wolves down Saturday afternoon by a final score of 71-61.

Today's win gives Blazer head coach Mike Helfer his 498th career win over the span of his 24 years of coaching. Currently, Helfer holds a record of 312-144 at the helm of the Blazers in his 16th year. Helfer hit the 300-win mark as the Blazers head coach last season with an 80-66 win over West Florida on Feb. 27, 2020.

VSU (9-3, 9-3 Gulf South Conference) witnessed Guardian Bank Player of the Game Mohamed Fofana have a career day. The junior was perfect from the field and set career-highs in points (14), minutes (27), field goals made (5), free-throws made and attempted (4-5), rebounds (8), and finally assists (3). Fofana led the Blazers in scoring, followed by junior Jacolbey Owens who recorded 13 points and was the only other Blazer in double digits.

The Wolves (3-6, 3-6 GSC) were led by 16 points from sophomore guard J. J. Barnes who shot six for 12 from the field (.500) with four balls from deep. The Wolves finished with three players in the double digits for points while shooting 80% from the free throw line.

Just like the day before, the Blazers were able to get on the board first, but the Wolves answered with a three and a jumper to quickly put itself ahead. Down three early, senior Burke Putnam made a jumper which started an 8-0 run for the Blazers to put itself up 12-5, playing shutdown defense during that span. UWG halted the run with a three, but Owens would answer right back with a deep ball of his own. Both teams were battling, matching each other's shots and long balls until the Wolves were able to shut down the Blazers and tie the game up at 28. Junior Maurice Gordon drove in and secured two, while junior Matt Treacy came right back down after a Wolves turnover and drilled a three. Owens would match Treacy's three with one of his own to put the Blazer's up 36-28. The Wolves were able to get two buckets as time was winding down, but the Blazers went into the locker room with the 36-30 advantage.

The Blazers outshot the Wolves, going 16 for 41 from the field (.390) where the Wolves shot 12 for 33 (.364). The Wolves had the edge in three-pointers, going seven for 18 (.389) from deep compared to the Blazers who went four for 14 (.286) from beyond the arch. The first half was clean on fouls for the most part as only three free-throws were shot with the Wolves going two for two and then Blazers missing their lone attempt.

The Wolves got the second half going with a layup, but Owens got the hot shooting going with another ball from deep. Down by four, the Wolves proceeded to go on a quick 8-0 run to give itself a 43-39 lead with 16:00 left to play. Redshirt junior Cam Hamilton put a stop to the run with a ball that was good for three followed by Fofana who got fouled driving in but made the basket and one to put the Blazers up two, giving the Blazers the momentum to not trail for the remainder of the game. Although the Wolves were able to tie it up right after, the Blazers were able to match its shots as Owens regained the lead from the paint. A steal and layup from Hamilton followed by two free-throws from graduate transfer Travis Bianco saw the tie game quickly turn to a six-point advantage for the Blazers. The run didn't stop there as Fofana got in on the action, sinking two free throws of his own. The Hawks were able to end the 8-0 run with a pair of free-throws itself but VSU kept up the pressure with another three-pointer. The energy from the Blazers was too much for the Wolves to handle, as the Wolves pushed it close and made it a five-point game, but the Blazers always had an answer and continued to dominate as the clock hit zero, where it ended the matchup with a 71-61 win.

The Blazers controlled the game with its defense, only allowing the Hawks to shoot 21 for 65 (.323) from the field which was .185 worse than the day before. The Blazers went on to shoot 25 for 68 (.368) from the field with seven threes. The Blazers saw the charity stripe 16 times and only missed two (.875) and dominated on the glass, bringing down 21 more rebounds than the Wolves. VSU saw 34 of its points come off the bench along with 34 coming inside the paint.

VSU heads on the road next weekend to faceoff against Montevallo Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. EST and Saturday, Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. EST. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the men's basketball schedule page.

WOMEN

CARROLLTON, Ga. – With the game tied at 47 heading into the fourth quarter, the No. 7 Valdosta State women's basketball team dug deep and outscored West Georgia 24-17 in the final frame for a 71-64 victory Saturday afternoon. VSU graduate student Kwajelin Farrar tallied her seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

VSU went a game-high 9 of 16 from the field in the fourth quarter (56.3 percent), including draining five treys in the frame (5-8) to pull away for the victory. Senior Delaney Bernard hit two big 3's in the quarter as four different players drained triples in the frame.

Bernard got things started in the frame with her first triple of the quarter for a 50-47 lead and Farrar followed with a bucket for a 5-0 spurt, but the Wolves wouldn't go quietly, however, as Lanee Edwards' second trey of the game and a bucket from Siera Carter tied the game for the fifth time at 52 with 7:41 left.

Back-to-back treys from freshman Alexandria Smith and sophomore Jirah Ards began a 12-2 run for a 64-54 lead with 4:49 left. UWG (5-7, 5-7 GSC) pulled within eight, but another spurt by the Lady Blazers pushed the lead to 13 with 2:48 left at 69-56. Two late 3's by UWG helped cut the score to the final deficit of seven.

For the game, Farrar was massive for the Lady Blazers inside with her 16 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end. She finished 7 of 15 from the field with a VSU career-best six assists and three steals earning Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game honors. Smith had a game-high 16 points on 6 of 12 from the field with three triples and eight rebounds. Bernard added 12 points and nine rebounds with three treys, while Nelson had a VSU career-high 13 points off the bench on 5 of 8 from the field and she knocked down a caree-best three from distance.

VSU improved to 12-1 on the year and 12-1 in Gulf South Conference play with the victory. Despite shooting under 40 percent for the game, the rebounding and 3-pointers proved to be the big difference as the Lady Blazers outrebounded UWG 49-35 and 21-10 on the offensive end. VSU finished 27 of 68 from the floor, while draining 11 treys, but was just 6 of 13 from the line.

UWG had five players in double figures, including four starters in the upset bid. Nijeria Jordan had a team-high 14 points off the bench on 6 of 10 from the field and 2 of 3 from range, while. Zaria Bankston and a team-high seven rebounds. The Wolves shot 40 percent for the game on 24 of 60, while going 7 of 24 from range and 9 of 12 from the line. VSU turned the ball over 13 times, but UWG held a 19-9 lead in points off turnovers to stay within striking distance.

The Wolves had the upper hand much of the first quarter and built an 18-12 lead on the old fashion three-point play from Carter with 1:48 left in the frame. Ards buried a jumper for the final bucket of the quarter and an 18-15 deficit.

Nelson connected on a trey to open the second quarter as VSU rattled off a 12-0 run for a 24-18 lead with 7:01 left in the half. Later in the quarter, Jordan hit a trey pulling the Wolves within 30-26. VSU led 31-26 at the break.

Smith hit a trey beginning an 11-2 run for a 44-33 lead for the visitors with 3:21 left in the third quarter. UWG regained the momentum with a 12-0 run, but Bernard drained a huge triple giving VSU the lead late in the frame at 47-45. Bankston, however, tied the game at 47 with a layup at the buzzer.

VSU head coach Deandra Schirmer won her 30th game at the helm of the program as she improved to 30-12 in her second season. VSU won its fifth-straight game and heads to Pensacola, Fla., for a matchup with West Florida on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the women's basketball schedule page. The game Tuesday will be broadcast on 94.3 WJEM FM with Mike Chason having the call. It also will be broadcast online at foxsportsvaldosta.com.