CARROLLTON, Ga. - Aren Ulmer flirted with a triple-double and Marquill Smith had a triumphant return to the court on Thursday evening at The Complex in Valdosta, Ga., as the West Georgia Wolves led for more than 35 minutes of the game at 21st-ranked Valdosta State, walking away with an 87-86 victory in Gulf South Conference. play.
The win moves West Georgia to 11-5 on the year and 6-2 in Gulf South Conference play, while the Blazers fall to 13-4 overall and 6-3 in league action. Smith was stellar on the evening, hitting 6-of-9 from three-point range to lead the Wolves with 32 points.
Valdosta State was the first to strike hard in this one, building an early 8-4 lead, but the Wolves came firing right back with a 7-0 run, entering the first media timeout with UWG leading 11-8. Smith got hot over the next 10 minutes, scoring 13 over the first 13 minutes of the game, leading the Wolves to as much as a 17-point lead in the first half.
But the 21st-ranked team in the country came back, and Winston Morgan hit back-to-back three-pointers to lead the late first-half run, and Greg Zuppas hit a pair of
The Wolves and Blazers stayed between a five-point to a seven-point lead for the bulk of the second half until Valdosta State went on an 8-2 run in the final four minutes. Morgan hit a pair of three-pointers to give the Blazers a lead at 78-77, but Smith came right back down on the other end and hit a layup to put the Wolves up at 79-78.
The two teams traded missed shots on back-to-back possessions until Smith drew a foul from the Blazers. The senior buried both free-throws to give the Wolves an 81-78 lead, then an offensive foul from VSU gave the ball back to UWG. Over the final minute, West Georgia made the free-throws necessary to hold off the hot-shooting Blazers to take the victory.
Ulmer drove the engine in the game, scoring 15 points, dishing eight assists and picking up five steals. Smith also flirted with a triple-double, scoring 32, pulling seven rebounds and dishing six assists.
West Georgia returns to action on Saturday afternoon, taking on the West Florida Argonauts in Pensacola, Fla.