COLUMBIA, S.C. (WTXL) — In a tale of two halves with No. 18 Valdosta State leading 30-15 at halftime, Benedict rallied in the second half for a 49-48 victory Wednesday evening. Benedict's Ay'anna Bey scored with seven seconds remaining for the only lead of the game for the Tigers.
VSU (14-4) was led by 17 points and a season-high 16 rebounds from graduate student Kwajelin Farrar, but the Lady Blazers didn't score over the final 7:16 of the game. Farrar finished 8 of 12 from the field. Graduate student Nicole Heyn and sophomore Lili Long each finished with nine points as Heyn recorded a season-high 15 rebounds.
For the game, VSU was 18 of 53 from the field (34.0%), while going 8 of 23 from deep, but the 25 turnovers proved costly. The Lady Blazers went 6 of 26 from the field in the second half and 2 of 13 from beyond the arc, while committing an uncharacteristic 15 turnovers in the second half alone, including 11 in the fourth quarter. VSU was 4 of 9 from the line for the game, while BC was 10 of 15 from the stripe. BC outscored VSU 21-6 in the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 17-0 run.
Benedict (13-6) had a game-high 23 points from Keondra Archie on 9 of 19 rom the field, 1 of 4 from range and 4 of 6 from the line, while Ayanna Armstead added ten points and Shanassia White recorded ten rebounds. The Tigers finished the game 17 of 69 from the field and 5 of 37 from beyond the arc. VSU held a 48-43 lead in rebounds for the game.
The teams split the season series as VSU won 65-58 in Valdosta on Nov. 13.
VSU 12 of 27 from the field for a 44.4 clip and was 6 of 11 from range in the first half, while Benedict was 7 of 37 from the field and 1 of 19 from beyond the arc, as the teams combined for 0 of 3 from the line. VSU held a 24-22 lead in rebounding, but BC led 9-3 in offensive rebounds.
Things looked good for VSU early as it raced out to a 12-0 lead to begin the game through the first 4:52 of the game. VSU began 5 of 11 from the field and 2 of 4 from deep, while BC went 0 of 7 from the field and 0 of 3 from deep.
Archie scored the first points for the Tigers as VSU led 16-4 through the first quarter, going 7 of 15 from the field, 2 of 5 from deep, while the Tigers were 2 of 16 from the field and missed on its nine tries from beyond the arc.
The Tigers opened the second quarter with a 5-0 run courtesy of Archie, but Heyn answered with a triple for a 19-9 score and 8:28 left in the half. Heyn connected on her second long ball of the frame for a 22-9 lead with 6:50 remaining in the second quarter.
VSU continued the strong play as graduate student Delaney Bernard buried one from deep for a 25-11 score and Farrar pushed the lead to 14 at 27-13 with 1:38 left. Bernard then scored for a 30-15 margin with 1:04 left for the final scoring for either team in the half.
Farrar scored the first points of the second half with seven and change left in the quarter for a 32-15 score. Long hit her third triple of the game for a 35-15 score with 6:23 left and a 35-15 lead for the largest advantage in the game to that point. Farrar pushed the lead to 22 at 37-15 with 5:44 left in the quarter and a game-high 22-point advantage. VSU began the second half with a 7-0 run to that point.
Later in the quarter, Farrar scored her 16th point of the game on a layup for a 40-21 score, while BC got on the board with two free throws and a triple from Armstead with 2:33 left in the frame. Archie then hit a triple for her 16th point and a 40-26 VSU lead with 1:10 remaining as the Tiger offense began to come to life.
Heyn made two free throws with 28 seconds left for a 42-26 lead and held a 42-28 lead through three quarters. For the third quarter, VSU was 4 of 18 from the field and 1 of 9 from beyond the arc, while BC was 3 of 15 from the field and 2 of 14 from deep.
A big triple from Francis, pushed the lead to 46-30 early in the fourth quarter for the Lady Blazers and the eighth make from deep in the game with 9:06 left.
The Tigers wouldn't go away quietly, however, as two big 3's from BC pulled the Tigers within 48:38 with 6:41 left and Armstead scored for a 48-40 score with 5:45 and an 8-0 run. VSU began the fourth quarter 2 of 6 from the field with one trey, while BC was 4 of 10 and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
Out of the final media timeout, BC hit two free throws from Archie for her 19th point, cutting the VSU lead to 48-42 and extending the run to 10-0. After a miss from VSU, Archie scored again for a 12-0 run, trimming the VSU lead to four at 48-44 with 3:52 left. VSU had not scored since the 7:16 mark on a layup from Farrar.
Archie pulled BC within 48-46 with a bucket with 2:39 left, but the Tigers were unable to convert at the other end. Heyn came up with her 13th rebound on the miss with two minutes to play. Three turnovers on three straight-possessions gave the ball back to BC with 90 seconds left. Once again, Farrar pulled down the rebound, but another turnover kept the Tigers within the game with 1:13 left. Farrar tallied her 16th rebound of the game with 56 seconds left and a timeout by the Lady Blazers.
Another steal by BC led to a foul on VSU as the Tigers had the chance to tie the game at the line with 45 seconds remaining. Wykira Johnson-Kelly missed the first free throw, but made the second for a 48-47 score and a 15-0 run.
VSU called a timeout to advance the ball to half court. Another turnover on the Lady Blazers gave BC a chance at the lead out of the timeout. BC called a timeout with 42 seconds remaining. It was the 23rd turnover of the game on VSU and ninth in the fourth quarter.
Farrar came up with a huge steal with 33 seconds remaining, but an offensive foul on the Lady Blazers gave Benedict the ball with 18 seconds left. Bey scored the winner as VSU was called for nine turnovers in the final 7:16 of the game.
The Lady Blazers return home to host West Florida on Saturday at 2 p.m., in a key Gulf South Conference contest at The Complex, to begin a three game homestand.