CARROLLTON, Ga. - A second-half shooting surge from the perimeter proved to be the difference in the game Thursday night at The Coliseum, as the Valdosta State Blazers handed the West Georgia Wolves a 91-80 defeat in Gulf South Conference action.
The Blazers erased the Wolves' seven-point halftime lead in the second half largely on the back of solid three-point shooting, as VSU hit 9-of-20 from three-point range in the period. Valdosta State guard Winston Morgan was the biggest culprit, hitting four from long range in the final six minutes of the game, spoiling another stellar performance from UWG senior Marquill Smith, who led all scorers with 32 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
The first eight minutes of the game belonged to the Blazers, as Valdosta State built a 23-11 lead at the 12:28 mark of the first half. The next eight minutes of the game saw a run that was one of the most impressive for the Wolves this season, as West Georgia outscored the Blazers 23-0 over that span, and a jump shot from Laperion Perry with 4:19 left in the first half put the Wolves on top 34-23.
West Georgia dominated in the paint in the first half, outscoring Valdosta State 22-12 as the Wolves went into the locker room holding a 36-29 advantage.
Valdosta State caught the Wolves quickly in the second half, and the first 14 minutes of the period saw the two teams locked in a seesaw battle with neither team gaining a real advantage. With 7:08 left in the game, Tajah Fraley hit a layup that gave UWG a 66-62 advantage. Over the next nearly five minutes of the contest, VSU outscored the Wolves 20-1, taking a commanding 82-67 advantage with 2:34 left in the game.
Smith's double-double was his ninth of the season, and the 32-point game marked the fourth time in the last five games that he has scored at least 30 points in a game. Gerald Blount had 17 points in the contest and Deng Nhial added 11 to lead the UWG contingent. Morgan led VSU with 23 points, followed by Beau Justice with 22.
West Georgia falls to 12-10 on the year and 7-7 in Gulf South Conference play. the Wolves will play host to West Florida on Saturday afternoon. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. with the women's game, and the men's game will tip at 4 p.m.