MONTGOMERY, Ala. (VSU ATHLETICS) — The Valdosta State women's basketball team posted its ninth-straight victory with a 75-56 victory at Auburn Montgomery Saturday afternoon. The Lady Blazers improved to 9-2 on the year and 8-1 in Gulf South Conference play, while AUM fell to 4-10 overall and 3-7 in league play.
VSU led by as many as 15 points in the first half as AUM cut the deficit to six at 39-33 at half. The Warhawks pulled within 42-38 with 5:19 left in the third, but the Lady Blazers went on 28-12 run, including 19-10 spurt to finish the third quarter, for a commanding 66-46 lead midway through the fourth. Since the 5:19 mark in the third, VSU outscored AUM 33-18 for the 75-56 victory.
The Lady Blazers shot 51 percent for the game on 25 of 49 from the field, while they were 5 of 16 from deep and 20 of 27 from the line. AUM finished 20 of 52 from the field for 38.5 percent, while it was 3 of 20 from beyond the arc and 13 of 15 from the line. Turnovers in the second half were a big part of the run by VSU as it forced 15 turnovers by the Warhawks in the second half and score 18 points off the miscues. VSU had just six turnovers in the second half after 14 in the first. VSU led 28-21 in points off turnovers for the game.
Sophomore Taylor Searcey finished with 16 points and 8 of 10 from the line to lead four Lady Blazers in double figures. Sophomore India Jordan finished with 12 points and 7 of 8 from the line, while juniors Tamiya Francis and Emma Martin each had ten points. AUM was led by Allasha Dudley with 13 points – all in the first half, while Trinity Hambright also scored 13 points and Kamya Hollingshed added ten points.
The Lady Blazers used a 7-0 run and closed the first half on a 9-2 run for an 18-8 lead through the first quarter. A free throw from junior Aleisha Curry and a triple from Martin swelled the lead to 27-12 with 8:42 left in the first half. After a drought by both teams, Martin scored inside for her tenth point of the game and a 29-16 lead with 5:18 left in the first half.
AUM wouldn't go away quietly, however, as it continued to chip away at the deficit and pulled within 33-26 on two free throws from Dudley for her tenth point of the half with 2:05 to play. Hollingshed scored on a pull up jumper for a 33-28 score and 1:52 to play, but the Lady Blazers quickly answered with a bucket from Curry and Searcey scored with a jumper with five seconds left, but Dudley was fouled on a 3-pointer at the buzzer for three free throws and a 39-33 score.
VSU opened the game shooting 14 of 20 from the field for 70 percent and 3 of 7 from deep, while going 8 of 10 from the line for first half. AUM was 13 of 27 from the field for 48.1 percent, while it was 0 of 9 from deep and 7 of 8 from the line. VSU committed 14 turnovers to nine for AUM as the Warhawks led 12-10 in points off turnovers. Martin had a team-high ten points in the half for VSU, while Dudley had 13 points for the Warhawks.
AUM began the second half with its first made 3-pointer of the game for a 36-33 score, but VSU answered right back with a jumper for a 41-36 advantage. VSU had a chance to stretch the lead back out, but three of four missed free throws pushed the lead to 42-36 with 6:12 left in the third quarter. VSU began the second half 1 of 9 from the field, while AUM was 1 of 5, through the first 4:41 of the third quarter.
Two free throws by Searcey and a steal and layup from senior Jirah Ards pushed the score to 46-38 with 4:40 left in the quarter and a timeout by AUM. Two free throws from Francis and a steal and layup from her pushed the lead to 50-40 with 3:28 left in the quarter.
Another turnover on the Warhawks led to a bucket from senior Kayla Frey for a 52-40 lead, followed by another miscue on AUM for the tenth turnover of the quarter on the Warhawks. Searcey then pushed the lead to 13 at 54-41 with 1:17 left in the frame. Ards came up with the theft and Francis drained a triple for a 57-41 score. VSU forced 11 turnovers in the frame and just one miscue for the Lady Blazers leading to a 12-2 lead in points off turnovers for the frame.
Ards began the fourth with a triple for a 60-44 score and the largest lead of the game to that point and, following a missed shot by the Warhawks, sophomore India Jordan drained one from downtown for a 63-44 lead with 8:09 to go. Sophomore Kate Tanner scored her second bucket of the game for a 66-46 lead with 5:57 to go, as VSU outscored AUM 28-12 since the 5:19 mark in the third quarter.
Seven quick points from AUM pulled the Warhawks within 66-53 with 3:31 to go, but Searcey scored an "and one" for a 71-53 lead with 2:26 to play for her 16th point of the game and VSU finished the game on a 9-3 run for the 75-56 victory.
The Lady Blazers continue on the road on Monday at 3 p.m. ET at Montevallo, to open the 2023 portion of the schedule. VSU then will return home to host Alabama Huntsville on Jan. 5, at 6 p.m., at The Complex.