VALDOSTA, Ga. (VALDOSTA STATE ATHLETICS) — A dominant defensive performance from the Valdosta State Lady Blazers led to a 75-57 victory over the Alabama Huntsville Chargers at the Complex on Thursday night. VSU improved to 11-2 on the year and 10-1 in Gulf South Conference play and won its 11th-straight game, while the Chargers fell to 3-8 in the Gulf South Conference and 3-12 overall.
Lady Blazer junior Emma Martin had a game-high 18 points going a perfect 6 of 6 on the night, including shooting 4 of 4 from beyond the arc and 2 of 2 at the free throw line to earn Guardian Bank Lady Blazer Player of the Game honors. Junior Aleisha Curry also had a great night scoring 11 points on 5 of 11 from the field and one free throw. Junior Lili Long chipped in 10 points, but it was the Lady Blazer "D" with 14 steals in the contest and forced UAH into 20 turnovers, leading to 26 points off the miscues. Conversely, the Lady Blazers had just nine turnovers in the game for the second-lowest total this season. VSU had a total of 14 steals in the game, led by Redshirt Senior Jirah Ards paced VSU with four thefts. Valdosta State also amassed five blocks in the game, two of which came from Curry. The overall defensive effort of the Lady Blazers held UAH to only one player in double figures in Jesse Jennings, scoring 15.
VSU shot 28 of 56 from the field for the contest for an even 50 percent, marking the third-straight game of shooting 50 percent or better and the sixth time this season. The Lady Blazers were 6 of 14 from beyond the arc and 13 of 16 from the line. Both teams had 31 rebounds in the game. The defense stymied the Chargers to 22 of 54 from the field for 40.7 percent, while UAH was 3 of 21 from beyond the arc and 10 of 13 from the line.
The Lady Blazers held the Chargers to just 19 points in the first half, as much of the Lady Blazers' defensive prowess could be attributed the Lady Blazers having eight steals in the first half alone, two of which came from senior Kate Tanner. The game remained tight throughout much of the first quarter at 7-6 in favor of VSU, until the Lady Blazer offense came to life with a 7-0 run to end the frame, 14-6.
Valdosta State continued its scoring streak entering the second quarter, outscoring UAH 10-4 through the first five minutes and change of the quarter and 24-10 lead. The Chargers began to claw back into the contest as Andie Flatguard scored on a jumper that began to spark Alabama Huntsville's offense as it closed the half on a 7-0 run over the final 2:30 of the quarter, pulling within 28-19 at the break.
For the half, the Lady Blazers went 10 of 29 from the field, while they were 2 of 7 from distance and 6 of 8 from the line. VSU held a 19-18 lead in rebounding, while holding UAH to 8 of 25 from the field and 1 of 10 from beyond the arc, while the Chargers were 2 of 2 from the line. VSU forced 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to a 11-4 lead in points off turnovers.
The Lady Blazers came out of the gates quickly in the second half, adding to their lead with a 5-0 run through the first two-plus minutes for a 33-19 lead on a "hoop and harm" for Curry. The Lady Blazers would continue this trend going 8-14 (57.1%) from the field for the third quarter alone and outscoring the Chargers 25-16. Much of the Lady Blazers offensive upswing can be accredited to Valdosta State taking advantage of Alabama Huntsville's four turnovers in the quarter, which the Blazers turned into 10 points. Valdosta State ended the quarter with a 53-35 lead.
The scoring didn't stop for the Lady Blazers entering the fourth quarter as senior Kayla Frey opened the quarter shooting a quick three-pointer to give VSU a 21-point lead. Valdosta State didn't let up for the rest of the game shooting 18 of 27 (66.7%) for the second half, holding UAH to 14 of 29 (48.3%). Valdosta State and Alabama Huntsville both scored 22 in the fourth quarter, but VSU's eventful second and third quarters were too much for the Chargers to overcome.
The Lady Blazers continue at home on Saturday when West Alabama comes to The Complex at 2 p.m.