A rematch of last year’s Gulf South Conference title game would not produce the same results for the UAH Chargers. The defending champions were taken down by Valdosta State 75-70 on Sunday.
Playing at the University of Montevallo, The Blazers started hot and quickly built a lead against the Chargers. Hitting the difficult shots, Valdosta would lead by nine in the first before UAH pushed back to end the first half down by only three.
Even though the teams were only separated by a bucket at the break, Chargers guard Sam Orf says their effort wasn’t strong enough.
“You can’t come out to a championship game and not act like it’s a championship game and that’s how I felt we played, especially in the first half,” Orf said. “We just didn’t want it as bad as they did.”
That being said, the team never let up. Orf contributed a game-high 33 points as the Chargers fought until the final buzzer, tying the game at 52 before eventually falling.
The team trailed by as much as 14 in the second half but Org says they never felt out of it.
“We were fine,” he said. “We knew that’s what we do, we’re a senior team, we always get back into games, and usually when we tie it up like that, we win. That’s what we do at the end of games, and that’s what we had in our minds, we were like, ‘We’re gonna win this game.’ Unfortunately, we just came up short.”
Head coach John Shulman said it’s hard to win big games playing the way his team did in the first half but praised their second-half effort.
“Winning back-to-back championships is hard, ask Mahomes. It is not easy. They had an edge, Valdosta had an edge today that we didn’t have, and so that was worth five or six points,” Shulman said.
Even with the loss, UAH’s season isn’t over. The team will learn its NCAA tournament fate during Sunday’s selection show. The teams will be announced at 9:30 p.m. CT.