CLEVELAND, Tenn. (VALDOSTA STATE ATHLETICS) — A 22-4 deficit in the first quarter proved to be too much of a hurdle to overcome as the No. 15 Valdosta State women's basketball team dropped a 56-45 decision at No. 20 Lee Monday evening. The loss snapped the Lady Blazers' five-game winning streak.
VSU fell to 7-2 overall and 2-1 in Gulf South Conference play, while Lee improved to 9-2 overall and 2-2 in conference play. VSU graduate student Kwajelin Farrar had a game-high 15 points and 14 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. She finished 5 of 13 from the field with five free throws and recorded nine defensive rebounds, coupled with five offensive boards. Sophomore Lili Long had 11 points and five rebounds in the contest.
Both losses this season for VSU have been by the identical score of 56-45 with the first loss being to Georgia College on Nov. 20.
Lee scored all but seven of its 56 points from its starters, led by 12 points from Haley Schubert to go along with eight rebounds. Hannah Garrett and Julia Duncan each had 11 points in the game.
VSU, who started the game 1 of 11 from the field for the first quarter, finished the game 15 of 46 from the field for 32.6 percent and outscored the Lady Flames 41-34 over the final three stanzas, but the first quarter proved to be the difference. VSU was 3 of 16 from beyond the arc for the game and struggled at the line, going just 12 of 24, while Lee was 16 of 20 from the stripe. Lee finished the game 18 of 50 from the floor for 36 percent, while it was 4 of 17 from range.
The Lady Blazers forced 23 miscues by the Lady Flames and only had nine miscues, but were unable to capitalize on the Lee turnovers. Lee forced just nine miscues by the Lady Blazers and converted into a 23-9 lead in points off turnovers.
VSU, who never led in the game, saw Lee score on its first possession of the contest and it built a 9-0 lead capped with two free throws by Duncan. One of two free throws by the Lady Blazers from sophomore Tamiya Francis got VSU on the board with 5:59 left in the first quarter. The Lady Flames added two more buckets for a 13-1 lead, before Long buried a triple for the only made field goal of the quarter for VSU. Lee then closed the frame on a 9-0 run for the 22-4 advantage.
The Lady Blazers chipped away at the deficit in the second quarter to the tune of a 13-6 frame to pull within 28-17 at the break. VSU finished the first half 5 of 20 from the field, 3 of 10 from range and 4 of 10 from the line, while Lee was 10 of 24 from the field 2 of 11 from beyond the arc and 6 of 8 from the line.
Francis scored the first bucket of the second half to pull VSU within 28-19, but Schubert scored on a fast break steal to push the lead back to double digits at 30-19. Farrar answered with an "and one" to pull within 30-22 with 5:15 left in the quarter, but Lee finished the frame scoring eight of the final 14 points for a 38-28 deficit.
The Lady Flames built an 18-point advantage with an 11-3 run to start the fourth quarter, but the Lady Blazers continued to fight and pulled within nine at 51-42 on an "and one" from Francis with 59 seconds left. Hughes scored inside following a timeout and she and Schubert went a combined 3 of 4 from the line in the final minute for the 56-45 final margin.
VSU returns home to host Montevallo on Sat., Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. at The Complex, followed by a matchup with Auburn Montgomery on Monday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming of the upcoming games at vstateblazers.com on the women's basketball schedule page. The games will be broadcast on 94.3 Fox Sports Valdosta with Mike Chason having the call and online at foxsportsvaldosta.com.