Sparks becomes blocks king in 72-64 Valdosta State loss

Posted at 10:03 AM, Jan 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-11 10:03:00-05
CARROLLTON, Ga. – Josh sparks blocked eight shots to become the Valdosta State career leader, but the defensive effort was not enough to overcome a cold shooting night for the Blazers as VSU fell 72-64 to West Georgia in Gulf South Conference men's basketball action at The Coliseum Thursday evening.
With the win, West Georgia improved to 6-6 overall and 2-2 in GSC play while Valdosta State fell to 9-4 and 1-4 in league action.
Sparks finished the game with 199 career blocks, surpassing the old VSU record of 195 held by Jon Rogers. The senior has blocked 52 shots in 13 games this year and recorded his fourth game this year with at least seven blocks.
The Blazers led throughout the first half as they used a bevy of early fouls by the Wolves to build a double digit lead less than seven minutes into the game. UWG committed eight fouls before the second media timeout of the game, which allowed Valdosta State to connect on 8-of-13 free throws during that span. David Murray and Shaquille Harris added a pair of field goals each while James Anacreon added a lay-up with 12:02 to play that posted VSU to a 20-7 lead.
West Georgia responded with a 12-5 run over the next seven minutes to close to within 25-19.  The Wolves connected on four straight field goals during the run while Valdosta State connected on just 2-of-7 shots and turned the ball over four times.
The Blazers' scoring woes continued the remainder of the half as VSU scored just four points over the final five minutes of play, but maintained their advantage for a 29-28 halftime lead.
West Georgia scored the first eight points of the second half to extend its run to 29-9 over the span of 14:20 of game play. Harris eventually ended the scoreless drought for the Blazers with a jumper in the lane and, after a three-point play by UWG's Sean Boston, Murray hit a pair of lay-ups to close VSU back to within two points.
Valdosta State missed its next five shots to allow the Wolves to rebuild a seven point advantage while a Quincy Hill three-pointer with 6:01 to play gave West Georgia its a 63-51 lead.
The Blazers got no closer than seven points the rest of the game as they missed 10 of their final 16 shots.
VSU made just 23-of-64 shots (35.9 percent) in the game while also missing 12-of-24 free throws. The Blazers also committed 20 turnovers.
Sparks added eight points and a career-high 18 rebounds to go along with his eight blocks. James Anacreon led Valdosta State with 22 while Harris had 12 and Murray 11.
West Georgia also struggled shooting the ball as it made only 21-of-68 shots, but connected on eight three-pointers, to only four for VSU, and made 20-of-31 free throws.
Boston had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead UWG while Hill added 12 and Thomas Higginbotham 11.
Valdosta State returns to action and continues Gulf South Conference play Saturday, January 12 when it travels to Livingston, Ala. to face West Alabama at 5:00 p.m.