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Lady Blazers Head to Top-Seeded Union for GSC Quarterfinal Tuesday Evening

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Posted at 12:05 AM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 00:05:01-05

VALDOSTA, Ga. – The Valdosta State women's basketball team ended its regular season with a postseason-clinching win at Auburn Montgomery on Sunday and now will head to top-seeded Union for a Gulf South Conference Quarterfinal Round game Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, in Jackson, Tenn.

The Lady Blazers finished the regular season with an 18-10 record overall and a 10-10 mark in the GSC. VSU, Mississippi College and Christian Brothers all finished with the same conference record as MC earned the No. 7-seed by its sweep of VSU and the Lady Blazers took the final spot for the conference tournament at No. 8 with the head-to-head win earlier this season over Christian Brothers.

Tuesday's game will be broadcast on 96.1 FM and 1150 AM on the Fox Sports Valdosta station with Spencer Van Horn having the call of the game. Fans can also access links to live stats, streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the women's basketball schedule page. Click to the right of this story for the GSC Women's Basketball Championship Central link.

The winner of the game Tuesday evening will advance to the GSC semifinal/championship rounds, Mar. 7-8 at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham, Ala., facing the winner of No. 5-seed Montevallo at No. 4-seed Alabama Huntsville. The other side of the bracket features Tuesday games of No. 7-seed Mississippi College at No. 2-seed Lee and No. 3-seed Delta State hosting No. 6-seed West Georgia. The women's championship is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. ET tip on Sunday.

VSU is 22-25 all-time in the GSC Championship and is making its 29th appearance. The 29 appearances and the 22 wins are second-most all-time both among current members and in the history of the league. VSU has reached the semifinals 16 times, qualifying for eight championship appearances and three titles. VSU won league championships in 1983, 1984 and most recently 2017.

The Lady Blazers have faced Union once in the Gulf South Conference Championship which was last season as VSU pulled the upset in the semifinal round with a thrilling 68-62 victory. Now-junior Kayla Bonilla posted a career-high 30 points in the win, including 22 in the second half leading the Lady Blazers to the upset win and the second championship appearance in the last three seasons. VSU used a strong third quarter – a 27-10 spurt for a 51-40 lead heading into the final stanza. Union fought back and got within two with 36 seconds left, but Bonilla scored the final six points at the line and had a steal to seal the win.

Union leads the all-time series with VSU 12-3 and won 68-52 earlier this season in Jackson, Tenn., and has won four of the last five in the series. Union leads 7-1 in games in Jackson, with the lone VSU win there coming on Dec. 17, 2016, in a 61-57 decision. In the game earlier this season, Bonilla led three players in double figures with 17 points, while senior Cheray Saunders and senior Nari Garner chipped in 11 points each. Union had 19 points from Jada Smith and a double-double off the bench from Caroline Hogue with 156 points and 11 rebounds.

Union shot 49 percent for the game, while holding VSU to 28.8 percent for the game. Union raced out to a 24-9 lead in the first quarter and led 37-23 at halftime as VSU struggled in the opening two frames. The Lady Blazers were 7 of 34 from the field and 6 of 14 from beyond the arc, while going 3 of 5 from the line in the first half. Union held a 46-25 lead in rebounding and 24-10 in points in the paint.

The Lady Bulldogs are led by Smith, who is averaging 18.4 points per game. She is 212 of 395 from the field (.537), while draining 21 triples and is 70 of 78 from the line (.897) to lead the team. She is averaging 5.1 rebounds per game for second on the team, while recording 145 assists with 35 teals and seven blocks. Jaelencia Williams is second in scoring at 16.5 points per game on 178 of 335 (.531), while she leads the team with 89 made free throws. Williams is averaging a team-high 8.7 rebounds per game and has a blistering 73 blocks on the year. Emily Beard is third in scoring at 10.3 points per game on 99 of 212 from the field. She leads the team with 86 treys in 179 attempts (.480).

As a team, Union is shooting at a .479 clip on 829 of 1730, while going 211 of 521 from beyond the arc (.405) and is 366 of 513 from the line (.713). The Lady Bulldogs are averaging 79.8 points per game and 42.1 rebounds per game. Union is holding teams to a .347 clip from the field on 619 of 1782, while teams are 185 of 635 from beyond the arc (.291) and 325 of 456 from the line (.713). Teams are scoring 62.4 points against the Lady Bulldogs and averaging 34.3 rebounds per game.

Bonilla leads the team averaging 17.1 points per game leading two players in double figures. She is 146 of 358 from the field (.408), while going 37 of 130 from beyond the arc (.285) and is a team-best 115 of 145 (.793) from the line. Bonilla is averaging 5.4 rebounds per game for second on the team, while recording 94 assists to lead the team and is second in steals with 52. Saunders is second in scoring at 15.6 points per game. She is 159 of 339 from the field (.469) to lead the team. She is 104 of 158 from the line (.658) and leads the team averaging 6.2 rebounds per game and a team-high 58 steals.

As a team, the Lady Blazers are shooting at a .421 clip on 709 of 1686, while going 204 of 599 (.341) from beyond the arc and 404 of 570 from the line (.709). VSU is averaging 38.1 rebounds per game and scoring 72.4 points per game. The team is holding teams to a .385 average from the field (666 of 1728), while the opposition has drained 170 triples and is 372 of 540 from the line (.689). The opponents are averaging 40.2 rebounds per game and scoring 66.9 points per game.