The Blazers (8-6, 4-4 Gulf South Conference) had a costly turnover late in their 82-78 loss to the West Florida Argonauts (7-5, 3-5 GSC).
VSU, now 2-4 in their last six games, made their best attempt at a comeback despite trailing most of the game Sunday night.
Senior guard Jacolby Owens helped fuel that comeback and took over the offense down the stretch. He even took VSU’s final lead of the night at the free throw line at 71-70 with 7:15 remaining in the game.
From then on UWF juniors Jejuan Weatherspoon and LaTrell Tate took care of the offense, combining for the final eight points for the Argonauts.
Owens and sophomore forward Caden Boser were responsible for VSU’s final seven points, with a Boser jumper bringing them within two with a minute to go.
After forcing a turnover with 35 seconds left to play, VSU took possession of the ball and secured the offensive rebound after senior forward Mohamed Fofana was blocked by Weatherspoon.
Then with 10 seconds left Owens drove into the lane, spun and was stripped by Tate, ending the game for VSU.
Though it didn’t end favorably, Owens set the stage for the second half.
The first half saw VSU go down by as much as 13 points, and while shooting 5-12 on threes in the period, they were 12-32 from the field.
Outside of Boser, who scored eight of his 16 total points in the first nine minutes of the period, the offense didn’t see much success. VSU had trouble finishing on the interior and relied on perimeter looks to stay in the game.
Late in the first half Owens was aggressive driving to the rim and put pressure on the UWF defense on his fast break attempts. VSU had 11 fast break points and 10 points off turnovers.
As the perimeter penetration persisted, VSU forced UWF into the bonus, and they got plenty of opportunities at the free throw line to cut down the lead before halftime.
Senior guard Kelan Walker threw up a prayer past the half court line as the first-half buzzer expired and made the shot to make it 42-40.
The second half looked almost like a different game with both teams coming out of the locker rooms firing.
VSU found themselves in passing lanes for steals with several players leaking out on the fast break, though they did give some of those back to UWF with careless turnovers.
The second half is also where Fofana did most of his damage, scoring a team high 17 total points on the night off the bench.
VSU won the battle of the benches 33-11 but were out rebounded 43-34 and outscored in the paint 44-38.
UWF’s primary goal from the beginning was to work the ball inside. While there were stretches when they chucked three-pointers, they found a lot of success on the interior.
Overall, UWF shot 15-31 from the field in the second half. Despite tying the score nine times and the lead changing four times, VSU just couldn’t overcome their deficit.
Fofana finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Boser finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Owens finished with 16 points, four rebounds, and six assists.
The Blazers will be back in action on Dec. 31 when they travel to Montgomery, Alabama, to face Auburn Montgomery.
Written by Clay Brown, Staff Reporter. Photo courtesy of VSU.