It was college basketball at its best.
Third-ranked Alabama-Huntsville used a 3-pointer from Xavier Baldwin with two seconds remaining to beat Valdosta State, 79-77, in dramatic fashion at the VSU P.E. Complex.
Baldwin’s 3-pointer answered a potential game-winning field goal by VSU’s Josh Sparks with 13.4 seconds remaining, which sent the smaller than normal but jubilant VSU crowd into a giant uproar.
Following Sparks’ field goal, the Chargers pushed the ball up the court and found Baldwin in the corner for the game-winning field goal, which quickly silenced the VSU faithful.
“I thought both teams played really hard and I thought both teams made a lot of plays,” Valdosta State head coach Mike Helfer said. “They just made one more.”
Valdosta State had its chances to put the Chargers away in the second half, but blew leads of 15 and 7 points.
After building a 15-point lead by using an 11-0 run midway through the second quarter, led by Patrick Diop, who drilled a field goal and a 3-pointer to begin the run, and capped off by an alley-oop from James Anacreon to Sparks.
Then, UAH put together a 16-0 run that took just 2:06 off the clock, connecting on four three-pointers to grab a 58-57 lead, only to see the Blazers re-extend their lead to seven, 69-62, with around six minutes to play.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, the Chargers came back, using a quick 6-1 run to close within two points. From there, neither team led by more than five points, which came when the Blazers grabbed a 73-68 advantage.
“We played really well. They just made their run, which you knew they were going to make,” Helfer said. “We didn’t respond well during the run, but once it got tied back up, I thought our kids responded well.”
A large piece of the Chargers’ comeback success was because of the play from point guard Jamie Smith and the Blazers’ inability to connect from the free-throw line.
Smith led the Chargers with a game-high 28 points, connecting on four of his nine three-point field goal attempts, including two during their 16-0 run midway through the second half.
Valdosta State connected on just 11 of its 21 free throw attempts, including just 5 of 13 in the second half.
“That’s a spot where I wouldn’t say we lost the game, but we didn’t live up to expectations,” Helfer said.
Diop finished with a team-high 24 points for the Blazers, connecting on 5 of his 8 three-point field goals, while David Murray finished with 16 points. Josh Sparks finished with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Valdosta State came out on fire in the first half, connecting on 45 percent of their field goals and 50 percent (6 of 12) of their 3-pointers.
With their hot shooting, the Blazers overcame an early narrow deficit to go surging past the Chargers.
Led by Diop’s hot hand, the Blazers built a 10-point first-half lead on multiple occasions, including once when Alan Love stole the ball and finished with a slam-dunk.
Unfortunately for VSU, the Chargers came back, much like one would expect a third-ranked team would do. The Chargers used a pair of three-point field goals inside the waning minutes of the first half, followed by a quick field goal to reduce their 10-point deficit to four, 42-38, at the half.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday against Shorter. The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip.
“In the game of basketball, the games come so quick,” Helfer said. “We play again in 42 hours so we have to make sure we bounce back. You have to turn the page so quick in this sport because the next team is going to be a good basketball team in the Gulf South.”
It was college basketball at its best.
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Blazers host respected rival UAH in Super Regional
One would expect a matchup featuring two of the top softball programs in Division II to come in the national championship game.
Unfortunately for Valdosta State and Alabama-Huntsville, who have combined to appear in four straight national championship games, they won’t be meeting in title game on Memorial Day in Salem, Va.
Blazers lose to Delta State, fall to loser’s bracket
If the Valdosta State baseball team is going to win the South Region Tournament, the Blazers going to have to do it from the loser’s bracket.
The Blazers (33-17) dropped their first game of the tournament Thursday, falling to Delta State 4-2 at UT Baseball Stadium.
VSU will face Stillman College, which lost to No. 1 seed and tournament host Tampa Thursday, Friday at 11 a.m. to advance to the weekend portion of the tournament. The loser will be eliminated.
Former Lady Blazer Ferguson hired to lead Vikettes
The sign above the door still has Shan Garner’s name on it. There is even a Shan Garner plaque sitting on one of the shelves in the corner of the gymnasium office.
That will soon change, though, as Lowndes has hired its newest girls’ basketball coach.
VSU wins 7th GSC Men’s All-Sports Trophy
Look out Title Town, another trophy is coming to town.
Valdosta State’s athletic department was awarded a seventh Gulf South Conference Men’s All-Sports Trophy Tuesday, sharing the honor with West Florida.
The tie between VSU and West Florida marked the first time in the GSC’s 42-year history that a pair of schools shared the honor. Both schools finished the athletic season with 29.5 points, based on the conference’s point system that gauges athletic success.
Baseball Heading to Tampa for NCAA Regional Play
The Valdosta State baseball team learned Sunday night that it will open the 2013 NCAA South Region Tournament against Delta State at the UT Baseball Field on the campus of the University of Tampa.
Soccer and Women’s Basketball team up for BoostHER Golf Tournament
Registration is now available for the annual BoostHER golf tournament to be held on Thursday, May 23rd.
VSU softball beats Tampa, 12-6, to host Super Regional
Kiley Rusen picked a good time to have a career breakout day for the Valdosta State softball team. Slugging her first-career home run and triple, while driving in six runs, Rusen led the charge as the Blazers routed Tampa 12-6 to advance to a second straight NCAA South Super Regional Tournament.
Late homers lift Blazers to South Region 1 final
Valdosta State’s softball team is one win away. One more win and the Blazers will be heading back to the NCAA South Super Regional for the third time in the last four years.
VSU softball has three named to All-South Region
Less than three hours before they took the field to open the South Region 1 tournament at Steel’s Diamond against Albany State, three Valdosta State softball players were named to the All-South Region First Team.
VSU softball, baseball camps set for june
Camp informationr regarding Valdosta State softball and baseball.
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