Hot-Shooting VSU Ends Wonder Boys' Season

Valdosta State scorched the nets of Tucker Coliseum with 56 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent shooting from 3-point range in a 72-60 Blazers’ win over the nationally top-ranked Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys in the men’s NCAA Division II Tournament South Regional semifinals on Sunday night.

The nationally sixh-ranked Blazers (27-4) made their first six shots of the game — five of which were 3-pointers — to race out to a 17-4 lead.

Tech came back to tie it at 25-25, but Valdosta State closed the half on a 10-3 run to take a 35-28 lead to the intermission.

The top-seeded Wonder Boys (30-2) got to within 44-41 on a Brandon Friedel 3-pointer with 14:01 to go, but back-to-back baskets by NCAA D-II South Region player of the year Tyrone Curnell gave the Blazers separation at 48-41.

Fourth-seeded Valdosta State was in control the rest of the way as it clinched the second NCAA Division II South Region championship game appearance in the history of its men’s basketball program.

Tristan Crawford was 4-of-8 from 3-point range and he led the Blazers with 14 points. Curnell had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Christian Hunter added 12 points of his own and Marvin Dibble scored 11 points forr Valdosta State.

Friedel hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points in his final collegiate game. The 2009-10 GSC West Division player of the year, Friedel finishes his career with 233 career 3-pointers — fifth-most in Arkansas Tech men’s basketball history.

Jeremy Dunbar scored 14 points for the Wonder Boys. Tech’s Renard Allen scored nine points and collected eight rebounds in his final collegiate game.

In addition to Friedel and Allen, three other Wonder Boys seniors played their final game for Arkansas Tech on Sunday night — Marcus Pillow, Dexter Hendrix and Irvin Humphrey.

Valdosta State advances to face Rollins College in the NCAA South Region championship game at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.