Valdosta State fought off a comeback bid by Clark Atlanta to post a 74-67 win over the Panthers in the first round of the men's NCAA Division II Tournament South Regional at Arkansas Tech University on Saturday night.
Fourth-seeded Valdosta State (26-4) led 55-44 with 13:04 remaining, but No. 5 seed Clark Atlanta rallied to cut the Blazers' lead to 65-63 on a Lawrence Williams layup with 3:34 left.
That was when Ricardo Lewis, who had only made one field goal all night, asserted himself for nationally sixth-ranked Valdosta State.
Lewis made a layup at the 3:18 mark and a jumper with 2:08 remaining to rebuild the Blazers' edge to 69-63.
Two Williams free throws trimmed it to 69-65, but Valdosta State's Tristan Crawford came up with an 8-foot fadeaway jumper from the left baseline to give the Blazers a 71-65 lead with 49.5 seconds left.
Clark Atlanta (24-7) missed a 3-pointer with 27 seconds to go, and Ryan Nelson iced it for the Blazers by making 2-of-2 at the free throw line.
Tyrone Curnell had 18 points and 16 rebounds for Valdosta State. Christian Hunter and Marquis Robinson added 11 points apiece for the Blazers, while Lewis finished with 10 points.
Clark Atlanta's Williams led all scorers with 22 points.
Valdosta State advances to face Arkansas Tech at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in the regional semifinals.]]>