VALDOSTA, Ga. — For the second-straight game this week, four Valdosta State women's basketball starters were in double figures as the No. 5 Lady Blazers ran their winning streak to seven games with an 85-71 victory over Montevallo Friday evening. Freshman Alexandria Smith had a career-high 21 points earning Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game honors.
Smith went a career-best 7 of 9 from the field, while draining all three of her treys and was 4 of 7 from the line, while senior Kayla Bonilla scored 19 points on 5 of 8 from the field, 4 of 4 from range and 5 of 6 from the line. Graduate student Kwajelin Farrar added 16 points and eight rebounds on 7 of 8 from the field.
VSU shot a season-high 61.4 percent from the field on 27 of 44, while draining 11 triples in 19 attempts to tie the 2020-21 season-high for 3-pointers made. The Lady Blazers also were 20 of 28 from the line, matching a season-high in made free throws.
With the victory, VSU improved to 14-1 on the year and 14-1 in Gulf South Conference play. The current seven-game winning streak matches the largest of the season as VSU opened the season with seven-straight victories, prior to the lone loss at Lee on Jan. 15, 63-54.
Montevallo fell to 7-4 overall and 7-3 in GSC play. The Falcons were led by 19 points from Jordan Jones, while Kiya Sain added 17 points and Marisa Snodgrass chipped in 13 points. The Falcons shot 31.9 percent on 22 of 69 from the field, while going 6 of 21 from beyond the arc and 21 of 27 from the line. VSU held a 41-29 lead in rebounding and 36-15 on the defensive end. UM capitalized for 30 points on a season-worst 32 miscues by the Lady Blazers (30-15 points off turnovers for Montevallo). Montevallo had entered the game averaging a league-best 80.0 points per game this season.
VSU never trailed in the contest and led for a season-high 39:09 minutes as the score was tied just once at 7-7 early in the first quarter. From there, Farrar scored inside for a 9-7 lead as VSU used a mini 6-0 run for a 13-7 lead capped with a bucket from Ards with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
Jones cut the deficit to two at 13-11 with 2:01 left in the quarter, but Bonilla scored with just over a minute left for a 15-11 lead through one frame. In the second, VSU stretched the lead to as many as seven sporadically throughout the quarter, but Bonilla buried a trey with 23 seconds left for a 40-30 lead at intermission.
The Lady Blazers started fast in the third quarter and built the lead to as many as 20 with a 28-8 run over the first five minutes and change of the half and a 58-38 lead with 5:39 left in the quarter.
Montevallo, wouldn't go quietly, however, as it turned up the pressure defensively and force VSU into seven turnovers in the third quarter alone, while outscoring VSU 10-0 in the frame on points off turnovers. The Falcons trimmed the deficit to 67-54 heading to the final frame.
In the first meeting between the two teams back in December, VSU had a double-digit lead through three quarters, only to see Montevallo respond in the fourth as VSU hung on for a 62-61 victory.
Heading into the fourth quarter tonight, it looked eerily similar to the first matchup due to the turnovers and the pressure the Falcons were using.
VSU senior Delaney Bernard hit a clutch triple with the shot clock winding down for a 75-59 lead with 5:42 left as the momentum was beginning to turn towards Montevallo. Sain answered with a trey at the other end and then scored a layup off a turnover on the inbounds pass by the Lady Blazers for a 75-64 VSU lead with 3:55 left.
Reigning GSC East Division Player of the Week, Snodgrass, pulled UM within nine at 77-68 with 3:27 left on a layup. Later, UM got within nine once again, but a big layup from Smith and two clutch free throws from her pushed the lead back out for the victory.
The teams will conclude the regular season series Saturday at 2 p.m. at The Complex.