PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Valdosta State women's basketball team struggled from the charity stripe and on the boards in a 70-66 loss at West Florida on Thursday evening, putting VSU's chances to qualify for the Gulf South Conference Championship in jeopardy.
The Lady Blazers fell to 17-10 overall and 9-10 in GSC play and will finish the regular season Saturday at Auburn Montgomery in now what is a must win. The loss moved VSU into a tie for eighth with Mississippi College, who was idle tonight, in the league standings. MC swept the season series with VSU and would take the eighth and final spot in the conference tournament if the two teams finish with the same conference record. MC plays at West Alabama on Saturday. Christian Brothers finished the regular season at 10-10 Thursday in conference play. Saturday's game at AUM is at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on 92.1 WDDQ FM with Spencer Van Horn having the call. Check back with vstateblazers.com on the women's basketball schedule page for links to live stats and streaming information.
VSU shot 34.4 percent for the game on 22 of 64 and was 8 of 27 from beyond the arc (29.6), but went just 14 of 29 from the line (48.3). UWF outrebounded VSU 57-41 for the game. Senior Cheray Saunders tallied a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, as she was 7 of 19 from the field, while draining a triple, but was just 4 of 12 from the line. Sophomore Kayla Frey added 16 points on 4 of 6 from the field and 8 of 11 from the line, while senior Nari Garner chipped in 15 points, all on 3-pointers.
This marked the seventh-straight loss in Pensacola for the Lady Blazers, dating back to a 62-59 win on Jan. 19, 2013. VSU fell to 6-9 all-time at UWF and now is 19-14 all-time against the Argos.
West Florida finished its season with an 8-20 record overall and a 4-16 mark in the GSC. The Argos shot 26 of 70 from the field for a 37.1 average, while draining seven treys and went 11 of 18 from the line. Rachel McCree tallied 18 points on 6 of 12 from the field with three triples and 3 of 4 from the line, while Charlotte Ellmore added 14 points and Faithe Franklin chipped in 13 points and ten rebounds. Danielle Norquest scored nine points and pulled down 19 rebounds.
UWF led for all but the first few seconds in the opening frame, leading by as many as five, but freshman Jillian King buried a triple for a 13-12 deficit with 1:30 left in the quarter. UWF's Fanny Hulmi answered in kind with 50 seconds left for a 16-12 UWF lead at the quarter break.
A 6-0 run by UWF pushed the lead to nine at 27-18 with 3:56 left in the first half, VSU answered the run with a 5-0 spurt capped with a breakaway layup at 27-26 with 2:43 left. Saunders made one of two free throws for a 31-29 deficit at the break.
UWF began the second half on an 8-0 run for a 39-31 lead with 7:25 left in the frame capped with a triple from Ellmore. Two buckets from Saunders pulled the Lady Blazers back to 39-35. Later, back-to-back scores from Bonilla and freshman Kendall Bollmer, brought VSU within 45-43 with 2:57 left in the frame. UWF then stretched lead back to six at 50-44 through three quarters.
Garner buried a triple with 8:31 left in the fourth for the first tie of the game since 2-2 in the first quarter. Frey then made one of two free throws for another tie at 55 with 7:02 left. Garner then hit her second trey of the frame for VSU's first lead at 58-57 with 6:07 left since it was 2-0 in the first quarter.
Every time VSU got close or, in this case took the lead, UWF would have the answer as Ashaunti Brown scored in the paint and then McCree buried a triple for a 62-58 Argo lead with 4:57 left. VSU was not able to make the shots it needed down the stretch as UWF built the lead back to eight, but two treys from Garner in the final 13 seconds pulled VSU within 69-66. UWF added one free throw for the final margin of 70-66.