AMERICUS, Ga. (VALDOSTA STATE ATHLETICS) — A 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter propelled the No. 18 Valdosta State women's basketball team to a 78-69 victory at Georgia Southwestern on Tuesday evening. VSU had a team-high 18 points from graduate student Nicole Heyn, leading four players in double figures. She and graduate student Kwajelin Farrar each had double-doubles for the game.
Leading for most of the game, the Lady Blazers (5-1) had their 34-27 halftime lead trimmed to 56-52 at the end of three quarters, but three-pointers from graduate student Delaney Bernard and sophomore Lili Long highlighted the 12-0 run to being the fourth for a 64-52 lead with 8:53 left and a timeout by GSW. It was the largest lead of the game for either team to that point.
Georgia Southwestern (5-1) wouldn't go away quietly, however, as a layup from Kayla Langley ended the run with VSU leading 68-54 with 6:26 left. Jacquelyn Levay buried a trey pulling GSW within 69-57 and then a layup off a steal cut the deficit to ten, but Heyn had the answer at the other end for a triple, her fourth of the game. Levay answered at the other end with her third trey of the game, cutting the deficit to 72-62 with five minutes remaining and a timeout by VSU.
Lady Blazer sophomore Tamiya Francis hit a jumper for a 76-64 lead with 2:39 left and then she stole the ball leading to a Farrar jumper for a 78-64 lead with 1:49 remaining. Levay hit another trey and a steal and score pulled GSW within nine at 78-69 with 1:06 left for the final margin.
Heyn finished 7 of 12 from the field, 4 of 7 from range and pulled down ten rebounds for her second double-double of her VSU career. Farrar went 6 of 14 from the field with 11 rebounds and had six assists with 13 points. Long tallied 15 points on 4 of 6 from the field with three treys and 4 of 4 from the line, while freshman Taylor Searcey, playing in her first game of the season, went 4 of 8 from the field and 2 of 2 from the line with four rebounds, three assists and ten points.
VSU finished the game 28 of 62 from the field (.452), while it drained ten triples, matching a season-high set against Benedict (Nov. 13) and went 12 of 18 from the line. VSU had a season-high 21 turnovers, but the long-range shots and a 49-28 lead in rebounding, including 17-7 on the offensive end for a 17-6 advantage in second chance points helped secure victory.
The 'Canes finished 23 of 61 from the floor (.377) and were 6 of 16 from beyond the arc, while they were 17 of 20 from the line. GSW had just 12 turnovers for the contest and held a 21-8 lead in points off turnovers to keep the game close. Levay led the team with 18 points on 5 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 7 from downtown ad 4 of 4 form the line. Kayla Langley added 14 points and 6 of 7 from the line, while Ava Jones chipped in 11 points and Jolicia Williams added ten.
GSW opened the second half with an 8-2 run as a couple of miscues by the Lady Blazers allowed the 'Canes to pull within 36-35 with 7:42 left in the quarter. Farrar scored inside for a 38-35 lead at the other end. Long hit another trey for a 41-36 lead with 6:32 left and Bernard hit one from deep, pushing the lead to 46-41 with 5:37 remaining in the quarter. Heyn gathered her own missed shot and drained a shot from long range as VSU stretched the lead to 49-41 with 4:22 remaining in the frame. It was Heyn's 15th point of the game and her third trey of the contest.
Two scores GSW pulled the Hurricanes within 49-45 and a technical foul on VSU gave free throws to the Hurricanes as they pulled within 49-47 with 2:38 left in the third. The Lady Blazers didn't sweat, however, as Searcey then scored her sixth point of the night for a 51-48 lead and graduate student Mallory Odell scored pushing the lead to 53-48 with 1:36 left in the quarter. Two buckets from GSW pulled it within 56-52 through three frames.
VSU held a 34-27 lead at the break 10 of 28 from the field in the first half, while GSW was 10 of 33 from the field. The Lady Blazers were 4 of 13 from beyond the arc and used big second quarter from the line, going 8 of 9 from the charity stripe in the frame and 10 of 11 for the half.
The Lady Blazers improved to 8-5 all-time against GSW and now have won three-straight in the series and six of eight, dating back to 2010. VSU opens Gulf South Conference play Saturday at 6 p.m., at The Complex versus rival West Georgia.