PENSACOLA, Fla. (Valdosta State) — Behind double-doubles from graduate student Kwajelin Farrar and sophomore Jirah Ards, the No. 5 Valdosta State women's basketball team used a big second half for a 64-47 victory at West Florida Tuesday evening.
Farrar finished with a game-high 17 points and 13 rebounds in the game as she was 8 of 11 from the field with six offensive rebounds and seven defensive rebounds. She had three blocks, three assists and two steals. It was Farrar's eighth double-double of the season and back-to-back double-doubles for the third time this season. Ards scored 14 points on 4 of 9 from the field with one triple and was a team-high five of eight from the line. She recorded her first double-double in a VSU uniform with ten rebounds, including eight on the defensive end, along with six assists and two steals. It marked the first time this season VSU had two players with double-doubles in the same game. Following the game, Farrar was named the Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game.
VSU improved to 13-1 on the year overall and a league-best 13-1 in Gulf South Conference play, while UWF fell to 4-6 overall and 4-6 in league play. The Lady Blazers ran their current winning streak to six games, as the team began the season with seven-straight victories earlier this year. The teams will meet for two games to close the regular season in Valdosta on Feb. 26-27.
For the game, the Lady Blazers shot 26 of 54 from the field for 48.1 percent, while they were just 4 of 13 from beyond the arc, but made them when they needed, including three in the fourth quarter. VSU was 8 of 14 from the line, while outrebounding UWF 40-31 for the game. VSU had 15 assists, 19 turnovers, ten steals and four blocks. After training 10-2 in points off turnovers in the first half, VSU closed the game to 16-15 with a 13-6 advantage in the second half in points off miscues.
Along with Farrar and Ards, senior Kayla Bonilla finished with 14 points on 6 of 11 from the field, while freshman Alexandria Smith added 11 points with three treys for four Lady Blazer starters in double figures.
UWF shot 18 of 57 from the field, but stayed close going 7 of 27 from beyond the arc and was 4 of 10 from the line. Peyton Lewis had a team-high 11 points off the bench, while Charlotte Ellmore added 10 points and Danielle Norquest had ten rebounds and six points. The Argos committed 17 miscues for the game.
VSU came out of the gates making its first three shots for an early 6-2 lead with 7:30 remaining in the first quarter to set the tone early. UWF started 1 for 4 from the field and 0 of 3 from beyond the arc. Bonilla had four of the first six points for the Lady Blazers.
A layup from junior Abby Rouse and a jumper Ards pushed the VSU lead to 15-10 later in the frame, as the Lady Blazers began making 7 of their first 11 shots from the field. VSU led 15-12 through the first quarter as it was 7 of 13 from the field, while UWF was 5 of 14 from the field. The Argos stayed close with two made treys, while VSU was 0 of 3 from range.
A trey from Ellmore, her second of the game, knotted things at 17 with 6:41 left in the half. VSU responded with the "and one" from Bonilla for a 22-19 lead with 4:26 remaining in the half. Junior Kayla Frey then scored inside for a 25-19 Lady Blazer lead with 2:08 left, matching the largest advantage of the half.
Following the ninth turnover of the half by VSU, the Argos pulled within 25-22 with 1:13 left on the fourth triple of the game, this time from Lewis for her eighth point of the game.
VSU led 26-22 at intermission as Bonilla led the way with eight points. VSU shot 47.8 percent from the field on 11 of 23, but was 0 of 5 from range and just 4 of 8 from the line. The Lady Blazer "D" held UWF to just 8 of 28 from the field (28.6 percent). However, UWF stayed close, going 4 of 14 from beyond the arc. VSU turned the ball over 11 times to UWF's seven. Ellmore and Lewis each had eight points for UWF in the half.
Smith buried VSU's first triple of the game at the 7:43 mark in the third pushing the lead back to a game-high six points at 31-25. A steal and bucket from Bonilla swelled the lead to 33-25, followed by a bucket inside from Farrar for a 35-25 lead with 6:37 left in the third quarter and a timeout by UWF. VSU opened the second half on a 9-3 run and a current 7-0 spurt.
Bonilla pushed the lead back to ten at 38-28 with her 14th point of the game with 5:35 left in the quarter. Ards buried two free throws for a 40-28 lead with 4:54 left in the frame. Farrar later scored inside for her eighth point of the game and a 42-28 lead, following a miscue from the Argos. Farrar then grabbed her ninth rebound of the game and a three-point play for a 45-28 lead with 3:13 left in the quarter and a 9-0 run.
A 3-pointer from UWF's Fanny Hulmi and a bucket off a turnover by the Lady Blazers pulled UWF within 47-36 with less than a minute remaining in the quarter. VSU didn't score for the final 1:59 of the frame, as the lead was trimmed to 11.
Ards knocked one down from distance ending the scoring drought for a 50-36 lead with 8:47 remaining and the first points of the fourth stanza. Following Bonilla's fourth foul with 6:55 left, Farrar grabbed her tenth rebound and Ards scored at the other end, pushing the lead to 54-40 with 6:19 remaining as the duo went to work in the final frame. Farrar and Ards scored a combined 11 points of the 17 scored in the quarter by VSU, along with recording seven rebounds. Smith scored the remaining six points on a pair of treys for the 64-47 victory.
VSU returns home to host Montevallo this Friday and Saturday at The Complex. Friday's game is set for a 7 p.m. tip, while Saturday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m.