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Valdosta State basketball wraps up weekend series against Montevallo with split

Women fall at home, men win on road Saturday
Posted at 8:05 PM, Feb 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 20:05:54-05

VALDOSTA. GA. - (VSTATEBLAZERS.COM) — WOMEN

Despite double-doubles from graduate student Kwajelin Farrar and sophomore Jirah Ards for the second time this week, the Valdosta State women's basketball team was unable to complete the season sweep of Montevallo Saturday afternoon, falling 78-70.

VSU, who dropped its first home game of the season, saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end in the loss, as it fell to 14-2 overall and 14-2 in Gulf South Conference play. Montevallo improved to 8-4 overall and 8-3 in conference play. VSU won seven games to begin the season before a loss at Lee and won seven following the loss before Saturday's setback.

Farrar had a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season to lead the team. She finished the game 9 of 13 from the field, while pulling down six offensive rebounds and seven defensively. Ards finished with 15 points and ten rebounds for her second double-double of the season. She was 5 of 10 from the field, 2 of 5 from range and 3 of 4 from the line. The duo also had double-doubles in the 64-47 win at West Florida on Tuesday. Farrar was named the Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game for her efforts Saturday.

Montevallo has had the upper hand in the fourth quarter this season versus VSU as the Falcons have outscored the Lady Blazers 70-50 in the final quarter, including 29-17 on Saturday afternoon after VSU had built as many as an eight-point lead in the third quarter. The Falcons held a slim 31-30 lead at intermission. In the first meeting in December, UM roared back from a 47-36 deficit, outscoring VSU 25-15 in the final stanza.

In the third, the Lady Blazers raced out to a 13-4 run for a 43-35 lead with 6:03 left in the frame capped with two senior Kayla Bonilla charity tosses. She finished the game with 17 points, one trey and 6 of 6 from the line. The Falcons cut the deficit to three and VSU led 53-49 at the end of the frame. VSU had its best shooting quarter in the third, going 9 of 15 from the field and 5 of 6 from the line.

The Falcons broke a 66-66 tie with a triple from Jordan Jones at the 2:27 mark, starting a 9-0 run for a 75-66 lead with 45 seconds left. UM made its free throws down the stretch, going 5 for 8 in the final four minutes from the line. VSU was unable to convert at the other end as it missed three shots and had one turnover during the UM run.

After shooting a season-high 61 percent last night in the 85-71 victory over Montevallo, the Lady Blazers went 25 of 61 from the field on Saturday for 41 percent. Last night VSU drained 11 treys, but had just four on Saturday, going 4 of 22 from range. VSU was 16 of 20 from the line, while pulling down 45 rebounds, including 14 on the offensive end. A total of 21 turnovers by the Lady Blazers proved costly Saturday after the team had a season-high 32 turnovers on Friday evening. UM made the Lady Blazers pay for the miscues, outscoring VSU 22-9 on points off turnovers on Saturday and was one of the few teams all season to outscore VSU in the paint Saturday, 50-42.

Montevallo shot 41.7 percent for the game on 30 of 72 in Saturday's victory. It was 3 of 16 from range and 15 of 23 from the line. The Falcons had 40 rebounds for the game and committed just 13 turnovers. Four starters were in double figures led by 15 points from Jones as she was 6 of 9 from the field with one triple and 2 of 2 from the line. Marisa Snodgrass, who is the reigning GSC East Division Player of the Week, went 6 of 8 from the line to lead the team.

The Lady Blazers made their final road trip of the regular season next weekend at Auburn Montgomery. Friday's game is set for a 7 p.m. ET tip, followed by a 3 p.m. ET start on Saturday.

MEN

The No. 20 Blazers bounced back from Friday's loss with a win Saturday evening over Montevallo by a final score of 79-73.

Today's win gives Blazer head coach Mike Helfer his 499th career win over the span of his 24 years of coaching. Currently, Helfer holds a record of 313-145 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 (10-4, 10-4 Gulf South Conference) saw Guardian Bank Player of the Game Burke Putnam seal the game with his free throws as time was winding down to secure the Blazer win. The senior dropped 12 points, shooting four for 11 (.364) from the field with one ball from deep. He brought down four rebounds along with dishing out three assists. Jakari Gallon, Cam Hamilton, Matt Treacy, and Jacolbey Owens all finished in double figures.

The Falcons (4-3, 4-3 GSC) were led by 17 points from junior guard James McNeil who shot five for 13 from the field (.384). The Falcons finished with four players in the double digits for points while shooting 81% from the free throw line.

Owens got the scoring started for both sides with an easy layup during the Blazer's first possession, to which the Falcons answered with a three of its own giving Montevallo its only lead in the half and the game. Maurice Gordon was able to make a free throw to knot it up at three and the Blazers made sure it wasn't going to plat from behind for the next 17 minutes.

Gallon got in on the action, making a jumper as well as tacking on two free throws before the Falcons were able to get two more points on the board. The Falcons were able to cut its deficit to just one halfway through the half at 17-16 but Treacy sank his second deep ball of the game to squash any lead the Falcons were looking for.

A few possessions later, after a three ball from the Falcons, the Blazers went on to outscore the Falcons 13-3 with help all around from the Blazer offense. Jeremy Golson made a three of his own while Gordon was able to tack on two more points as the clock hit zero to put the Blazers up 13 going into the locker room.

The Blazers led at the half but were barely outshot by the Falcons in the first half, going 14 for 41 from the field (.341) where the Falcons shot 10 for 29 (.345). Montevallo also had the edge in three-pointers, going five for 15 (.333) from deep compared to the Blazers who went five for 19 (.263) from beyond the arch. The Blazers dominated the boards, coming off the glass with 32 rebounds and more offensive rebounds (16) than Montevallo's total (15). The Blazers controlled the first half, maintaining its lead for 17:34 minutes and having as large of a lead as 14.

The Falcons were able to cut it close to make its deficit just 10 but Owens was able to make back to 13 with a three ball. Putnam got in on the scoring along with Treacy to add on to his total to help the Blazers get a comfortable with a little more than halfway to play. A 12-point game with 10:44 left to play, the Blazers went on a little run to increase its score to 70-52 with eight minutes remaining. A steal and a layup from the Falcons got the ball rolling in the wrong direction for the Blazers as the Falcons were able to play lockdown defense and barely miss a shot, going on an 18-4 and bring its deficit to just four with 1:12 left to play. Gordon was able to slam down a dunk to bring the momentum on the Blazers side, but a turnover and a three ball from the Falcons made it just a one possession game with :12 left to play. Putnam sealed the deal with a good free throw during the next possession to give the Blazers the bounce back win 79-73.

The Blazers outshot the Falcons, going 28 for 67 (.418) from the field while sinking 10 threes, while the Falcons shot 25 for 62 (.403) with 10 deep balls. The Blazers saw the charity stripe 19 times and made 13 baskets (.684) and finished with an advantage on the boards, coming down with 44 opposed to the Falcons 37. VSU saw 44 of its points come off the bench along with 34 coming inside the paint.

VSU returns home to play its last regular season home series against Auburn Montgomery Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the men's basketball schedule page.