VALDOSTA, Ga. – Behind the best offensive performance of the season in the first half, the Valdosta State women's basketball team handed No. 5-ranked Lee University its first loss of the season, 74-68 on Tuesday evening at The Complex.
VSU (8-2, 2-2 GSC) shot a blistering 16 of 26 from the field in the first half for 61.5 percent and shot 72.7 percent in the second quarter alone as the upset-minded Lady Blazers led 38-27 at intermission. Lee, who had run its winning streak to a school-record 11 games, shot just 32.4 percent for the half on 11 of 34 from the field and opened the game making four of its first 17 shots in the first quarter.
Lady Blazer senior Nari Garner had 11 points in the first half with three triples as VSU was 5 of 7 from beyond the arc in the second half. Lee's Haley Schubert had 12 points in the first half on 5 of 8 from the field with two triples.
VSU never trailed in the contest and had the answer for each Lee run as the Lady Blazers scored the final four points of the first quarter for a 17-10 lead. A 9-0 run in the second quarter put the home team up 30-15 with 5:41 left capped with a triple from Garner.
As good teams do, Lee (11-1, 3-1 GSC) cut the deficit to seven at 32-2 with 1:36 left in the half, but Garner buried her third trey and freshman Kendall Bollmer hit a big 3 with 27 seconds left for the 38-27 advantage.
Coming out of halftime, VSU scored the first five points for a 43-27 lead, as the Lady Blazers kept the margin in double-digits for much of the frame. Schubert hit a jumper for a 50-43 deficit on an "and one" and she then buried one of three treys in the game for a 50-46 score with 2:36 left in the third, which was as close as Lee had been since early in the game.
Once again, VSU had the answer as the Lady Blazers pushed the lead back to double-digits and settled for a 58-50 lead at the end of three. VSU again extended the lead to double-digits in the fourth, but the Flames caught fire late in the game as the shots began falling.
Lee cut the deficit back to four with two free throws from Lindsey Roddy with 45 seconds left at 70-66. VSU junior Delaney Bernard hit two huge free throws with 44 seconds remaining as free throw shooting had been a problem for VSU in the game, going 1 for 4 in the first half and 14 of 23 in the second.
A missed triple from Roddy and one of two tosses from Garner pushed the lead to seven at 73-66 with 33 seconds left. Shcubert had the answer, however, as she cut the deficit to five. Senior Cheray Saunders made one of two free throws and a turnover ended the game as VSU captured the top five victory.
For the game, VSU had four starters in double figures, led by junior Kayla Bonilla as she tallied 21 points on 8 of 13 from the field, two triples and 3 of 5 form the line. Bonilla had five assists and two steals in the game, along with five rebounds. Garner finished with 15 points on 5 of 12 from the field, three triples, five rebounds and five steals. Saunders had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Bernard had 10 points. Junior Saniah Simpson-Patu was all over the rebounding with ten rebounds in the game. VSU dominated inside, outscoring Lee 41-18 in the paint.
Schubert finished with 21 points on 8 of 15 from the field, three triples and five assists, along with five rebounds. Roddy had 12 points as did Nicky Widenski for the Flames.
VSU returns to action on Thursday at 6 p.m. versus Thomas University in non-conference play at The Complex and will host Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday at 2 p.m. to conclude the 2019 portion of the schedule.