Forty-minutes is the new eternity.
Every millisecond was clocked to decide the Blazers and Albany State, as VSU came out on top, defeating the Golden Rams 93-87 on Nov. 9 at the VSU Complex.
The primary reason for the extremely long matchup was due to VSU’s constant visit to the foul line. The Blazers shot 27-30 (90 percent) on free throws, a game-high.
Senior center Bryce Smith and Darrell Jones had 23 and 21 points, respectively, for the Blazers. Jones notched his first double-double of the season with 11 rebounds.
Head coach Mike Helfer was proud of Smith following his huge performance.
“I love coaching Bryce Smith because he is passionate,” Helfer said. “He loves to play the game or basketball. He is so confident in his abilities and that’s a great thing, especially when we can utilize him on the inside and out. You don’t get a six-foot-nine kid very often that’s as good as he is.”
Smith stepped out of his normal comfort zone in the paint, knocking down two three-pointers. He said it was not a part of the game plan.
“I was trying to get the ball inside,” Smith said of his in game frustrations. “We need to go inside-out and that’s what our coaches have been telling us. I was trying to get my team involved and tell that ‘If we go inside-out, I can get some buckets inside. And if they got to help, I can kick it to my guards for the three.’”
Jones, the other front court star, shined as he shouldered much of the load when the team was not in sync.
“We came out pretty slow, so being a senior I had to come out with some energy on the offensive glass,” Jones said,
VSU made their presence known early, jumping out to a double-digit lead for the majority of the first half and coasted into halftime with a 51-41 lead.
The Blazers shot 56.3 percent for the half on 18-of-32, while going 11-of-12 from the line. The Golden Rams shot 18-of-33 from the field, but was nearly non-existent from the charity stripe, 1-of-4 in the first half of play.
ASU showed new life, going on a 7-0 run to begin the second half and cutting the deficit to just three points at 51-48.
The Blazers regrouped and thrusts the lead back to seven numerous times.
At 8:55 left in regulation, VSU led 73-63.
Two key free throws from Smith gave the Blazers an 88-77 lead with 2:15 remaining, as the Golden Rams kept their heads high and chests out, cutting the deficit back to six points at 93-87.
Senior forward Clay Guillozet finished with a subtle 15 points and a game-high six assists on 5-of-6 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the foul line. Junior Imoras Agee scored 13 points.
The Blazers improve to 2-0 on the season with a while before conference play begins. Helfer sees changes that must be made before that time arrives.
“We have to work on time-scoring decision making,” Helfer said. “It’s not just the end of the game. They are on a 7-0 run, we’ve got to understand that the next possession for us is important. We can’t turn it over. We can’t make a bad decision. We’ve got to control the game within the game.”
The Blazers will host Brewton-Parker on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at The Complex.