PENSACOLA, FLA. (vstateblazers.com) — Wendell Matthews of West Florida scored a layup in with six seconds left handing visiting Valdosta State a 99-97 overtime heartbreaker Saturday afternoon. VSU had six players in double figures and a double-double from junior Michael Cole with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Juniors Cam Hamilton and Maurice Gordon led VSU with 19 points each.
Hamilton earned the "and one" following a miss by the Argos on the first possession in overtime as he was unable to convert the three-point play. LaTrell Tate scored at the other end for a 90-90 score with 4:11 left for the Argos. Two good looks by the Blazers on the ensuing possession fell short, but freshman Ricky Brown gathered a key rebound and drained a huge trey for a 93-92 lead with two minutes and change left in overtime. Dave Petit-Homme scored putting UWF up 94-93, but junior Jacolbey Owens gave VSU the lead back at 95-94 with 1:44 left on two free throws. Tate answered for the Argos with a big trey with 1:21 left for his 21st point of the game at 97-95.
Hamilton was fouled with 24 seconds left and made both free throws to tie the game at 97, before Matthews' winner. VSU had one last look with two second left as Owens' trey was off target.
The Blazers fell to 7-7 on the year and 3-4 in Gulf South Conference play, while UWF improved to 12-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play. In a thriller from start to finish, the game saw 18 lead changes and 14 ties as VSU built a 13-point lead in the second half at 65-52, but UWF rallied for the overtime victory.
Junior Maurice Gordon was eight of 12 form the field with two treys and eight rebounds, while Hamilton was six of 13 from the field with three treys, four of five from the line and three steals. Cole went seven of 12 from the field with three free throws and the 12 boards, including seven on the defensive end. Freshman Ricky Brown knocked down five treys going five of nine from the field for 15 points, while Owens finished with 14 points and sophomore DJ Mitchell had 13 points.
UWF had six players in double figures led by a game-high 21 points from Tate. He was seven of 17 from the field, three of nine from range and four of four from the line. Dave Petit-Homme finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, while Jejuan Weatherspoon just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Blazers return home to host Delta State and Mississippi College next week for Hall of Fame Weekend. The Blazers and Statesmen meet Thursday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. at The Complex, followed by facing Mississippi College on Jan. 15 at 4 p.m.
In a high scoring first four minutes and change, the Blazers built a 13-9 lead capped with a hook shot from Cole. Petit-Homme buried a triple pulling UWF within 15-14, but Hook answered with his sixth point of the game on a layup for a 17-14 lead with 14:18 left in the half. The offensive fireworks continued as an emphatic dunk from Gordon pushed the lead to five at 19-14 with 14:06 left in the half as VSU began the game 8 of 12 from the field with two treys, while UWF was 5 of 7 from the field and three triples.
UWF tied the game at 22 with 10:15 left on a jumper from Tate and the Argos took the lead moments later on a jumper from Daniel Sofield, but once again the Blazers hand the answer with a layup from sophomore DJ Mitchell for a 24-24 score and 8:52 left in the half. Following a triple from Tate, Gordon answered with one of his own for a 33-31 VSU lead with 6:26 left in the half and his 12th point of the game. The game continued to be a back-and-forth affair over the next four minutes as neither team could garner much of an advantage.
Weatherspoon put UWF ahead 46-45 with 2:11 left in the half. Two free throws from the Blazers and a jumper from Owens put VSU ahead 49-46 capped with a Mitchell layup at the Buzzer for a 51-46 lead at intermission, matching the largest lead of the game for the Blazers to that point.
For the half, both teams shot the ball extremely well as VSU was 19 of 31 from the floor for a 61.3 average, while UWF was 20 of 35 from the field for a 57.1 average. Both teams buried five of 11 treys and the Blazers were 8 of 10 from the line, while UWF was one of two. There were seven ties and nine lead changes in the half. Mitchell led the way with 13 points in the first half on a perfect five of five from the field with one trey and two free throws, while Gordon added 12 points on five of six from the field with one trey and one of two from the line. Tate had a team-high 10 points for the Argos on four of 10 shooting and two of five from range.
Brown hit a trey for a 56-50 VSU lead with 17:51 left in the contest, followed by an offensive foul and turnover on the Argos. Following a brief cold spell for both teams, Cole finished a flush for a 58-50 lead with 16:21 left as VSU opened the second half scoring seven of the first 11 points. Out of the first media timeout of the half, Owens put the red and black up ten at 60-50 with 15:51 left and the largest lead of the game. Brown continued the hot hand with another trey and a 63-50 lead as VSU extended the run to 12-4 to open the half with just over 14 minutes remaining.
A layup and a triple from Sofield quickly pulled UWF within 65-57 with 12:49 left, but Blazer junior Cam Hamilton answered with a trey of his own at the other end for his tenth point of the contest and a 68-57 lead with under 12 minutes to play.
Two free throws by the Argos and a Weatherspoon trey pulled UWF within 72-66 with 10:21 left. Following a missed shot and a block, Weatherspoon followed with a dunk, trimming the VSU lead to 72-68 with 9:31 left and a timeout by the Blazers. A bucket from the Argos pulled them within 72-70 just over eight minutes left as UWF used a 13-5 run since the Hamilton trey.
Cole, who continued to have an outstanding game, pushed the VSU lead to six with a layup for his 17th point of the game and a 78-72 lead with 7:03 left. Two quick scores from UWF pulled the Argos, once again, within two at 78-76 with five minutes left.
Two free throws out of a timeout tied the game at 78 and UWF took its first lead since the 1:58 mark in the first half with a dunk from Darrin Jenkins with 4:51 left, but Gordon had the answer again for the Blazers and a triple for an 81-80 lead with 4:31 remaining.
Two free throws and a layup from Sofield gave UWF an 85-81 lead with 3:32 left and Gordon shaved the deficit in half with a layup for his 17th point of the game and 2:53 left at 85-83. Weatherspoon pushed the back to four with a dunk for an 87-83 lead and 2:09 left. Hamilton game up huge, once again, with another trey pulling VSU within 87-86 and then stole a pass and scored for an 88-87 led with 1:14 left as he scored five-straight points.
Another Hamilton steal gave the Blazers the chance for the lead and Owens' step back trey missed with three seconds left as the game went to overtime, 88-88.