VALDOSTA, Ga. — Behind 43 combined points from sophomore Kate Tanner and junior Lili Long, the Valdosta State Lady Blazers posted a 66-52 victory over No. 8 Georgia Southwestern Tuesday evening at The Complex. Tanner finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, earning Guardian Bank Lady Blazer Player of the Game honors, while Long finished with 21 points and five rebounds.
The Australian duo finished a combined 11 of 16 from the field, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and 18 of 22 from the line in the game with big shot after big shot, especially when GSW made runs in both halves. Sophomore Taylor Searcey finished with six points and a team-high ten rebounds, while junior Emma Martin added nine points.
VSU (2-2) shot 40.9 percent from the field on 18 of 44, while it was 6 of 19 from deep and a season-high 24 of 36 from the line, including 14 of 17 from the line in the second half, after opening the game 10 of 19 from the stripe for the first half. The Lady Blazers extended the winning streak to four games over GSW and seven of the last nine.
The Lady Hurricanes (3-1) finished 16 of 45 from the field for 35.6 percent, while they were 4 of 11 from beyond the arc and 16 of 22 from the line. VSU held a 39-24 lead in rebounding, including 14-7 on the offensive end. Ava Jones had a team-high 13 points for the Lady 'Canes on 4 of 9 from the field, 3 of 4 from deep and 2 of 4 from the line.
VSU, who never trailed in the game, opened the contest with a triple from senior Jirah Ards and built as large as a seven-point cushion through the first quarter and settled for a 16-12 lead through one frame. Jones' triple with 7:22 left in the half pulled the Lady 'Canes within 18-17, but the "and one" at the other end by Tanner swelled the lead to four at 21-17. VSU stretched the lead to 25-19 with 5:22 left in the half using a 7-2 run capped with two free throws from Tanner, a steal from Long and a bucket from junior Tamiya Francis.
Later, following a turnover on GSW, Martin buried a triple with 1:50 remaining in the half for a 30-20 lead and VSU added three more free throws in the final seven seconds of the half for a 33-22 lead at intermission.
Tanner used another "and one" for a 38-26 lead early in the third and two more free throws from her swelled the lead to 14 at 40-26 with 7:04 remaining in the frame. Martin, once again, had a big triple for a 46-30 lead with 2:45 left in the quarter, but the Lady 'Canes wouldn't go down without a fight as they cut the deficit back to 12 at 48-36 with two free throws and a jumper off a steal from Jolicia Williams in the final minute of the quarter.
Just over two minutes into the fourth, Tanner scored in the paint off her own offensive rebound for the first points of the quarter and a 50-36 lead. Georgia Southwestern would cut the deficit back to 11 on a couple of occasions, but two free throws and a bucket from Tanner swelled the lead to 17 at 66-49 with 1:19 left.
VSU returns to Gulf South Conference play making its first road trip of the season with a Saturday matchup at Delta State at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by a 6:30 ET tip on Monday at Mississippi College. VSU returns home to host West Georgia in the Red Clay Rivalry Series, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. at The Complex.