Helfer Secures 200th Win; Blazers Defeat UWA, 83-65

| February 19, 2016

blazer basketball

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – Head Coach Mike Helfer secured the 200th win of his Valdosta State coaching career on a historic night, in which Jeremiah Hill hit 11 three pointers and the Blazer basketball team cruised to an 83-65 Gulf South Conference win over the West Alabama Tigers on Thursday night in Livingston, Ala.

“For some reason it felt different in warmups tonight,” said Hill in a postgame interview on the Blazer Radio Network with Mike Chason on Thursday night. “It just felt like everything was going. I hit 10 or 11 in a row from the corner in warmups, and I knew it might be a good night. After the first two, I wanted to try and get some more up, and then I hit the third one. It just kept riding after that.”

Before missing his last two attempts in the game, Hill was red hot and connected on 11-of-12 opportunities from beyond the arc for a career high 33 points. The performance marked a new Valdosta State record for most made three pointers in a single contest and placed Hill in a four-way tie for the GSC single-game record. The junior represented one of three Blazers to reach double-digit figures in the game, as Blake Justice added 14 points and Justin Simon secured his seventh double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Blazers took complete control of the contest midway through the first half with a Hill three pointer that began a 31-9 run for Valdosta State and carried over into the second half over the next 13 minutes of action. The three by Hill represented one of seven first half three balls by the Blazers and led to a 58.3 percent shooting effort (7-of-12) from beyond the arc in the first half alone.

West Alabama finally ended a four minute scoreless streak inside the 17 minute mark of the second half with four Acie Vance free throws, but Saadiq Muhammad retaliated with a layup at the 15:56 mark and Hill began a shooting exhibition with eight three balls over the ensuing 14 minutes.

Valdosta State’s defense held the Tigers to 40.4 percent from the field, while countering on offense with a 54.5 percent shooting effort and a collective 59.3 shooting percentage from three point range.

“I’m really proud of this team tonight,” said Helfer after being doused by ice water by his players during a postgame celebration of his 200th win. “Minus some stuff during the last minute and a half, we basically held that team under 60 points in a very difficult place to play.”

With the win, Valdosta State improved to 16-9 overall. More importantly, however, the Blazers lifted their league record to 12-8 and kept their hopes of hosting the first round of the upcoming Gulf South Conference Tournament alive as one of four teams now tied for third place in the conference standings.

“If you stay in this profession long enough and you have good players you’re going to win some games,” added Helfer in regards to his career. “Valdosta State has been very good to me. It’s a great place with great people, and this is the right team to get this win with.”

The Blazers now turn their attention to the second place Wolves of West Georgia, with another GSC road contest in Carrollton, Ga. Tip time is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.


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