Lee Men Win At No. 5 Valdosta State
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Quay Kennedy hit clutch free throws down the stretch and the Lee men's basketball team once again provided defensive intensity from start to finish to earn a statement weekend sweep over No. 5 Valdosta State, 77-74 on Saturday afternoon.
The two Gulf South Conference powers exchanged punches for much the afternoon with the margin staying in single digits the whole contest.
The difference was foul shooting and defense. Kennedy, who seems to relish the big stage moments, scored nine of his 22 points in the final two minutes, including a perfect 6 of 6 from the foul line to put the game away.
Kennedy was 10 of 12 from the charity stripe for the game and added eight rebounds.
"I think the first night is really important in these road series and so getting off to a great start last night gave us some momentum and enabled us to relax today and just go play. I thought defensively we were really good and we were unselfish with the ball offensively. I thought Valdosta made some nice adjustments and this certainly could have been a game that could've gone either way but every time they made a run we had an answer," said Lee head coach Bubba Smith.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle with Travis Bianco nailing a 3-pointer for the Blazers as time expired to take a 39-35 lead into the halftime break. The Flames responded out of the intermission however with a 21-11 run over the first 10 minutes of the second half to regain control of the game.
"It was a balanced weekend with a bunch of guys brought things on both sides of the basketball," added Smith. "Today we shot the ball better from the 3-point line with Mahkhi (McGuire) made some, Mike (McGuirk), and Jayce (Willingham) and which helps but this team's DNA is defense, and I thought our ability to guard them down the stretch was the difference."
McGuirk added 15 points while point guard Beyuan Hendricks did a little bit of everything with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. McGuire canned three treys and finished with 12 points.
The Flames were cooking from long distance going 10 of 21 (47.6 percent) and were 23 of 43 (53.5 percent) from the field overall.
Only two Blazers cracked double-figures as Burke Putnam had 16 and Imoras Agee added 13 and six boards. Valdosta State shot 44 percent from the field and were 6 of 19 (31 percent) from the 3-point line. The home team struggled at the line converting just 8 of 15.
The Flames improve to 4-1 on the young season while the Blazers fall to 6-2. Lee will finally get to play on the home court at Walker Arena this weekend as it hosts Shorter on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before entertaining West Florida next weekend.
When asked about finally playing at home Smith quipped, "We wear our whites (home jerseys) on the second game of the road series so it's somewhat felt like we were home but yes, we are certainly excited to be able to play on our home court this week."