CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The No. 8 Valdosta State women's basketball team saw its seven-game winning streak to begin the season come to an end with a 63-54 loss at No. 16 Lee Friday evening in clash of two top 25 teams. The Lady Blazers and Lee are set for a 2 p.m. tip Saturday to conclude the weekend series. The winner of Saturday's game will have a 2-1 advantage in the season series.
Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com for the game Saturday. Spencer Van Horn will have the call of the game on 94.3 WJEM FM and online at foxsportsvaldosta.com.
Cold shooting proved costly Friday evening as the Lady Blazers (7-1, 7-1 GSC) shot a season-low 17 of 59 from the field (28.8 percent), while going 6 of 24 from beyond the arc and 14 of 16 from the line. Senior Kayla Bonilla had a team-high 12 points, but had just two made field goals and was 8 of 9 from the line. She was named the Guardian Bank Blazer Athlete of the Game. Freshman Alexandria Smith had 11 points on 4 of 11 from the field and drained three treys.
Lee (5-1, 5-1 GSC) didn't shoot much better, going 22 of 57 from the field (38.6%), while the Flames were 9 of 26 from range and 10 of 16 from the line. Haley Schubert had a game-high 20 points on 7 of 19 shooting with three treys. Hannah Garrett added 13 points, while Julia Duncan chipped in 12 points.
VSU scored the first bucket of the game for its only lead of the contest. The Flames then built the lead to as many as seven with a triple from Garrett at 18-11 with 1:47 left in the first quarter.
The Lady Blazers went just 3 of 15 from the field in the first quarter, 1 of 6 from range and perfect 4 of 4 from the line. Lee opened the game 6 of 14 from the field for the quarter, while it drained four of its first six treys and was 3 of 4 from the stripe.
VSU missed its first three shots of the second quarter, but used a 7-0 run pulling within 19-18 on a jumper from senior Delaney Bernard with 6:47 left in the half. Schubert followed with a trey, for Lee's first points of the quarter, and a jumper for a quick 6-0 run and a 24-18 lead. Smith scored in the paint for a 24-20 deficit and a trey from freshman Taylor Searcey pulled VSU within 24-23 with 3:21 left in the half.
A fast break bucket from Garrett pushed Lee's lead to 27-23 with 2:39 remaining in the half. Bonilla made one of two tosses at the line for a 27-24 deficit with 1:21 remaining for final points of the half.
The Lady Blazers cut the deficit to one on two occasions early in the third. Following a jumper from VSU sophomore Jirah Ards, for a 29-28 deficit with 8:57 left in the quarter, Lee followed with a 12-0 run. Schubert buried two of three triples during the run for a 41-28 Lee advantage with 5:52 left in the frame.
VSU didn't give up, however, as it used a bucket in the paint from Bernard and a trey from Smith quickly cutting the deficit to eight at 41-33 with 5:02 remaining. Later in the quarter, Lee built a 12-point lead, once again, but the Lady Blazers ended the frame on a 9-3 run for a 48-46 deficit heading to the fourth. Bonilla earned a big "and one" pulling VSU within 45-42 with 20 seconds left, but Maddie Long buried a trey at the buzzer for the six-point advantage.
Graduate transfer Kwajelin Farrar pulled VSU within 48-46 with a layup and 6:58 left in the game. Garret scored in the paint with 5:11 left for Lee's first points of the frame. From there, Lee used another big run, this time a 10-2 spurt, for a 58-48 lead with 2:23 left capped on a jumper from Schubert. Smith buried a triple for VSU pulling the Lady Blazers back within two buckets at 58-54 with 1:17 remaining.
VSU didn't score the remainder of the game and had to foul as the Flames went 5 of 6 from the line down the stretch for the 63-54 final margin. VSU missed its final three shots over the final 1:17 of the game.