ROME, Ga. — Behind a season-high 17 points from senior Delaney Bernard, leading three players in double figures, the Valdosta State women's basketball team posted its sixth-straight victory to begin the season with a 79-57 win at Shorter on Friday evening.
The 6-0 start by the Lady Blazers is the best since the 2003-04 season when the team began 10-0, while the six-straight wins in 2020-21 mark the most since the 2017-18 season when the team won seven-straight from Feb. 1-Feb. 22, 2018.
The Lady Blazers shot a season-high 54.9 percent from the field in the victory at Shorter, going 28 of 51 from the floor, while draining eight treys and finished 15 of 21 from the field. Bernard was brilliant, going 7 of 11 from the field, while draining three triples in five attempts as she was named the Guardian Bank Blazer Athlete of the Game. Graduate transfer Kwajelin Farrar finished with 12 points on 6 of 8 from the field, while senior Kayla Bonilla chipped in ten points and had a season-high eight steals. VSU had a season-high 16 thefts against the Hawks.
VSU forced Shorter (1-6, 1-6 GSC) into 25 turnovers and capitalized on the miscues outscoring the Hawks 36-10 in points off turnovers. Both teams finished with 23 rebounds in the game, while VSU had just 11 miscues.
Shorter's Chatham Brown had a team-high 15 points off the bench and seven rebounds. She was 4 of 6 from the field, 2 of 2 from range and 5 of 6 from the line leading three Hawks in double figures. Julia Peroni finished with 12 points and Kelly Pickett chipped in ten off the bench. VSU held Shorter to 40.7 percent from the field on 22 of 54, while the Hawks were 6 of 15 from beyond the arc and 7 of 12 from the line.
The Lady Blazers came out of the gates on fire as they scored the 14 points of the contest, capped with two free throws from freshman Alexandria Smith with 6:49 left in the first quarter. A triple from Brown pulled Shorter within 22-14 with 2:03 left in the frame for the final scoring of the stanza.
Peroni pulled Shorter within 24-17 with 9:41 left in the half, but the Lady Blazers used a jumper in paint from Farrar and a pair of free throws from sophomore Jirah Ards pushing the lead back to double-digits as the Hawks never the deficit under double-digits the rest of the half. VSU held a 43-27 lead at intermission.
In the second half, VSU stretched the lead to 18 on a triple from sophomore Kendall Bollmer for the largest lead of the game to that point at 57-39 with 2:07 left in the quarter. Shorter later cut the deficit back to 13 on a couple of occasions in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Blazers had the answer each time and pushed the lead to over 20 with another triple from Bollmer with 1:50 remaining in the game at 76-55.
Saturday's game is set for a 2 p.m. tip. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the women's basketball schedule page. Spencer Van Horn will have the coverage of the game on WJEM 94.3 FM Fox Sports Radio Valdosta and online at foxsportsvaldosta.com.