PENSACOLA, Fla. – The West Florida men’s basketball team stayed right with No. 5 Valdosta State in Gulf South Conference play Wednesday night, but the Blazers held on for an 83-73 victory to remain undefeated in GSC play. Senior Jonathan Jackson (Pensacola, Fla./Johnson County CC) scored his 1,000th point in his four-year career at Johnson County Community College and UWF, but it was not enough to lead the Argos to victory. VSU improved to 22-2 overall and 7-0 in GSC play, dropping the Argonauts to 8-13, 1-7.
UWF trailed by one point with 4:43 to go, but the Blazers, led by a stellar performance by Tyrone Curnell pulled away for the 10-point win. Curnell led all players with 30 points, and his 16-16 mark at the free throw line matched the GSC record for free throws made in a game without a miss. The forward also tallied nine rebounds and five steals.
Senior Maurice Thomas (Milton, Fla./Pensacola JC) played all 40 minutes and scored 20 points for UWF, while junior Ken Mitchell (Mobile, Ala./Alabama Southern CC) added 15 and Jackson scored 13. On defense the Argos were led by freshman Peter Connole (Orlando, Fla./Pine Castle Christian Academy), who grabbed five steals, all in the first half.
Valdosta State scored the first basket of the game on a three-pointer by Tristan Crawford, and the Blazers led the rest of the way. The Argos fought to stay in the game with the top-ranked Blazers, but VSU finished the first half on top 42-32 thanks to 12 points by Curnell in the opening period and a 22-14 rebound advantage.
The Argonauts matched VSU shot-for-shot in the second half. UWF started the half with three baskets and six unanswered points. The Argonauts stayed close, and back-to-back three-pointers by Thomas and Jackson with less than five minutes to go narrowed the Blazers lead to one point at 71-70.
UWF was down by six with less than a minute left, but a Jonathan Jackson three that could have made it a one-possession game bounced out, forcing the Argonauts to foul. The Argos could not convert on two more possessions, and Curnell sunk his last two free throws with 16 seconds on the clock, giving the Blazers the 10-point victory.
The Argos finished the night out-shooting the top-ranked Blazers 47.1 percent to 40.7 percent. VSU finished with a 39-31 rebound advantage, including 20 offensive boards to the Argos’ 10. Curnell starred at the charity stripe for the Blazers, but the Argonauts shot 80.8 percent from the line as a team, led by Mitchell (7-7) and Thomas (7-8).
UWF will return to the court on Saturday, February 13 to take on West Georgia, with tip-off scheduled for 4:00 p.m. For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.