VALDOSTA, Ga. (VALDOSTA STATE ATHLETICS) — A steal from Valdosta State graduate student Kwajelin Farrar and pass to sophomore Tamiya Francis for a layup wit 0.8 seconds remaining lifted the Lady Blazers to a 52-51 victory over No. 25 Lee Thursday evening at The Complex. VSU won its sixth-straight game and improved to 204 overall and 15-2 in Gulf South Conference play.
In game that had just about everything and a night where defense shined on both sides, the Lady Blazers got the biggest steal and score of the season when it mattered most. Farrar finished with 16 points, five rebounds one assist and three steals with the last one being the biggest of her VSU career. Freshman Taylor Searcey also had an outstanding game with 14 points off the bench, going 7 of 11 from the field and a team-high eight rebounds, while Francis finished with 11 points on 4 of 8 from the field, 3 of 3 from the line and six rebounds. Farrar now has 1,998 career points playing at both South Carolina Aiken and VSU.
Lee (19-5, 12-4 GSC) tied the game at 48 with a triple from Camryn Grant and two minutes to play, but Searcey continued her outstanding play and scored inside with 90 seconds remaining. A steal by Haley Schubert earned her two free throws with 53 seconds left. She made one of two pulling Lee within 50-49. The Lady Flames were led by 16 points from Morgan Carbaugh on 6 of 9 from the field and 4 of 7 from deep for the only player in double figures. VSU held Schubert and Halle Hughes to eight points each as both were averaging double figures entering the game.
After a timeout by VSU to advance the ball to midcourt, VSU called another timeout with 38.5 seconds remaining and 15 seconds on the shot clock. A block from Grant went out of bounds with two seconds left on the shot clock for VSU. VSU's shot went wide and Lee got a blocking call on VSU with 14.3 seconds remaining with Schubert at the line where she made both for a 51-50 Lee advantage.
VSU advanced the ball after a timeout to the frontcourt, but a turnover on the inbounds pass gave the ball back to the Lady Flames with 7.1 seconds left. Carbaugh turned the ball over and Farrar picked it up and found an open Francis for the winning layup. Lee didn't have enough time to do anything following the score.
The game had all of the intensity of a tournament game in March and was a critical victory for the Lady Blazers as the earned the split in the regular season series with both teams winning on their home courts. No team held a lead of more than six points the entire game. Also, the NCAA South Region rankings were announced Wednesday and VSU learned it was fourth in the first poll, while Lee was fifth, giving VSU another victory over a regionally ranked team.
The two top scoring defenses in the GSC went at it on Thursday evening and they showed why as VSU, who leads the GSC in scoring defense at 53.5 points allowed per game, held Lee to 18 of 48 from the field for a 37.5 average, while it was 9 of 29 from beyond the arc and 6 of 11 from the line. Lee entered allowing 56.7 points per game, holding VSU to 20 of 56 from the field for 35.7 clip as the Lady Blazers were just 1 of 15 from beyond the arc and 11 of 21 from the line. Both teams had 38 rebounds in the game and VSU forced Lee into 21 turnovers and held a 13-8 lead in points off miscues as VSU turned the ball over 16 times.
Lee jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but two quick fouls on Lee's Hannah Garrett sent her to the bench. VSU had two free throws in four attempts early from Farrar, but was 0 of 7 from the field through the first five minutes of the contest. Out of the media timeout, Farrar went to the line, once again, making it a 5-3 deficit with 3:57 left in the quarter as both teams were ice cold offensively.
Searcey scored and was fouled following two great offensive rebounds by graduate student Mallory Odell for a 6-5 deficit and the first made field goal of the game for VSU with 1:53 left in the quarter. Macy Woodworth scored inside for an 8-5 lead, but Searcey answered with a jumper at the other end for an 8-7 score through the first frame.
Despite the cold shooting by both teams, the defenses recorded 21 total rebounds in the frame and a combined 13 turnovers. VSU was just 2 of 13 from the field in the quarter and 0 of 6 from deep, while it was 3 of 7 from the line. Lee was 3 of 9 from the field and 1 of 6 from beyond the arc, while going 1 of 2 from the stripe.
A steal from graduate student Nicole Heyn and fast break layup from Searcey gave VSU its first lead of the game at 9-8 with 9:07 left in the half. It was Searcey's sixth point of the game. Freshman India Jordan scored on a driving layup for an 11-8 lead with 8:20 left in the half and a timeout by Lee. Out of the timeout, Carbaugh buried a triple in the corner to tie the game at 11. Lee regained the lead with a trey from Micah Black for a 14-11 score and 6:22 left in the half. As the fouls started mounting for the Lady Flames, VSU continued to struggle from the line as it missed two more from the stripe with 5:41 remaining as VSU was 3 of 9 at the stripe to that point.
Farrar scored her first field goal of the game for a 14-13 deficit, but Carbaugh answered at the other end from deep, while Farrar pulled VSU within 17-15 on another bucket inside with 3:30 left in the half. Searcey scored inside on a great pass from Odell to tie the game at 17 with a minute left in the half. Following a turnover on Lee, Searcey hit a pullup jumper for a 19-17 lead and 37 seconds remaining. Heyn had a good look at a trey from the corner at the buzzer, but it wouldn't go down as VSU held a 19-17 lead at the break.
Searcey sure provided a spark off the bench for the Lady Blazers in the first half, going 5 of 7 from the field with five rebounds and a game-high ten points. Farrar added seven points. VSU was just 8 of 27 from the field for the half, while it was 0 of 9 from range and 3 of 11 from the line. Lee didn't shoot much better as just 6 of 19 from the field, but drained four triples in 15 attempts and was just 1 of 2 from the line. There were a combined 27 turnovers in the first half. Carbaugh had two treys in the half to lead Lee in scoring with six points.
Francis made two free throws for the first two points of the second half and a 21-17 VSU lead. Farrar added two more free throws for a 23-18 score and 8:24 left in the third and a 5-1 start to the second half. Halle Hughes hit a triple for a 23-21 VSU lead and seven minutes left in the quarter. Lee had its fifth foul called with 6:52 left in the quarter, giving free throws to VSU on every foul the rest of the frame. Two Lady Flames players had three fouls and one with four to that point. Cabaugh pulled Lee within 24-23 with 6:18 left in the frame on her eighth point of the game.
Lady Blazer graduate student Odell scored in transition off a missed shot by Lee giving VSU a 28-23 lead for its largest lead of the game with 3:27 left in the third. After a bucket from Lee, Heyn hit the first 3 of the game for VSU, but Carbaugh answered at the other end for her third trey of the contest. VSU was 0 for 12 from deep before the Heyn triple. Following a VSU turnover, Black drained a long shot tying the game at 31 with two minutes left in the frame. Farrar broke the third tie of the with a bucket inside, followed by a miscue from the Lady Flames and Francis quickly put VSU up 35-31 with a layup. Lee was bailed out with a foul at the buzzer giving Haley Schubert two free throws, making one for a 35-32 VSU lead through three frames.
Carbaugh's fourth trey of the game gave Lee the lead at 39-37 with 6:11 remaining in the game and a 7-2 start to the fourth quarter for the Lady Flames. Farrar's 14th point tied the game at 41 with five minutes to play. Francis earned the "and one" for a 44-41 lead and 4:25 to play. A driving layup from Schubert pulled Lee within 46-45 with 2:58 left and a timeout from the Lady Flames. It was just Schubert's fifth point of the game as she entered leading the team in scoring.
VSU concludes the home regular season slate on Saturday at 2 p.m. at The Complex versus Shorter for Senior Day. Prior to the game, VSU will honor four seniors prior to the game. VSU also clinched a home game for the "Super Tuesday" Quarterfinal game of the GSC Championship on March 1. Click here for information on purchasing tickets for the "Super Tuesday" game.