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Valdosta State basketball completes the sweep in season openers

Posted at 12:15 AM, Dec 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 00:15:28-05

VALDOSTA, Ga (Valdosta State Athletics) — WOMEN

VALDOSTA, Ga. – In the long-awaited return to playing collegiate sports, the Valdosta State women's basketball team opened the 2020-21 season with a thrilling 82-69 victory over West Georgia Saturday afternoon at The Complex. Behind four players in double figures and a double-double from senior newcomer Kwajelin Farrar, the Lady Blazers roared back from a ten-point halftime deficit, outscoring UWG 49-26 in the second half.

Farrar made her Blazer debut in style, going 11 of 13 from the field, while pulling down 11 rebounds with three assists, one block and two steals. Senior Kayla Bonilla added 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while sophomore newcomer Jirah Ards had 11 points and nine rebounds in her first game, along with three assists and four steals. True freshman Alexandria Smith chipped in 11 points off the bench in her first collegiate game.

VSU, who struggled out of the gates early, found its stride with a big third quarter, outscoring UWG 34-12 for the frame and went a blistering 13 of 22 from the field, while draining four treys in the quarter and 4 of 5 from the line. The defense held UWG to a game-low 4 of 16 from the field in the third quarter and 0 of 5 from beyond the arc for the frame.

Out of the intermission, Farrar cut the deficit to 43-35 with 9:20 left on a layup off her own offensive rebound as VSU had two key offensive boards on the possession. The Blazers held a 15-9 lead in offensive rebounds for the game and a 19-9 advantage in second chance points. Bonilla then buried a triple for a 43-38 deficit. UWG pushed the lead to seven at 45-38 with 8:11 left in the frame, but the Lady Blazers used a 10-0 run for a 48-47 lead on the "and one" from Farrar with 6:21 left in the quarter. Through the first six minutes of the third quarter, VSU outscored the Wolves 23-6, capped with a pair of charity tosses from Bonilla and a 56-49 score.

Late in the frame, junior Kayla Frey buried her lone trey of the game with one second left for a 67-55 lead through three quarters. VSU built the lead to as many as 18 in the fourth quarter with 4:10 to play and settled for the 13-point victory.

Farrar was named the Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game in her debut. Each game this season, a Blazer will be named the Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game.

The Blazers shot 30 of 73 from the field for the game for 41.1 percent, while draining 11 from deep on 34 attempts and were 11 of 15 from the line. VSU pulled down 45 rebounds in the game, while recording 21 assists to just 12 miscues with six blocks and 12 steals.

UWG (1-1, 1-1 GSC) was led by 15 points from Siera Carter leading three players in double figures. Lanee Edwards added 12 points and Taylor Brown chipped in 11 points. The Wolves shot 40.7 percent for the game on 24 of 59, while going 10 of 25 from range and 11 of 18 from the line. UWG had 40 rebounds with 14 assists, 17 turnovers, four blocks and seven steals. VSU held a 25-8 lead in points off turnovers for the game.

The Wolves came out of the gates on fire, draining five of eight treys in the first quarter and built a 12-5 lead on a pair of tosses from Mariah Holder with 5:17 left in the frame. VSU used a 5-0 run to tie the game at 12, but a trey from Edwards put the Wolves back in front. Farrar gave VSU its first lead of the game at 16-15 with 3:21 left. UWG scored the final five points of the frame for a 20-18 lead.

Holder scored on the break for a 35-26 lead with 4:32 left in the half and Morgan Perkins pushed the UWG lead to 37-26 with a jumper with 3:58 left for the largest lead of the game for the Wolves. A 5-0 run by the Blazers cut the deficit to 37-31, but UWG quickly pushed the lead back to ten at 43-33 at intermission.

The Blazers head to Montevallo for a Wednesday evening game, before returning home to close out the 2020 portion of the schedule Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. at The Complex versus Lee.

MEN

CARROLLTON, Ga. – The No. 16 Blazers open the season 1-0 after a close 62-60 victory over West Georgia Saturday evening at The Coliseum.

VSU (1-0, 1-0 Gulf South Conference) saw Guardian Bank Player of the Game Imoras Agee go 10-19 from the field with five balls from downtown. The only Blazer in double figures, Agee was able to tack on five rebounds and two assists during his 35 minutes of play. GSC Top Newcomer Travis Bianco tallied nine points and eight rebounds for the team while redshirt sophomore Jakari Gallon led the Blazers with 13 rebounds, a new career high, and was two points off from a double double.

As a team, VSU shot 37.1 percent from the field while going 5-20 from deep and 11-20 from the line. UWG shot 30.6 percent from the field and edged the Blazers from beyond the arch, hitting seven in total. VSU led the rebound and block column while UWG dished out two more assists and had four more steals.

The Wolves (0-2, 0-2 GSC) were led by 18 points from junior Deng Nhial, shooting 7 of 12 from the field while bringing down six rebounds. Senior Kadeim Jones also finished in the double-digits with 13 points while dishing out three assists.

The Blazers came out hot in the first half, going up 18-11 with 12:35 to go off a layup from freshman Ricky Brown. Agee sank two of his game total five three pointers during that span and accounted for 12 of the Blazers 18 points. After a timeout, the Wolves gained momentum and took the lead at 18-20 but Gallon tied the game back up at 20 a piece with 9:06 left to play in the half. The Blazers had the lead heading into the locker room by a slim margin of 33-29.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, as neither shot over 33 percent from the field. UWG was able to score 12 of their 29 points off VSU turnovers while VSU was only able to get five. The Blazers dominated the paint, outscoring the Wolves in that department.

VSU was able to hold on to their halftime lead for half of the second half until UWG tied the game at 50. The Wolves took a three-point lead late, that was until Agee hit a game-tying three to put it square at 57. Just two possessions later, the senior was able to give VSU the lead with another ball from deep with 2:57 left to play. After a bucket for VSU, UWG was able to cut the lead down to two at 62-60 with 30 seconds left to play in the game. A three-pointer as time expired was no good from the Wolves, as VSU went on to win 62-60. The Blazers have now won their last 10 season openers, dating back to 2011.

VSU will head back to The Complex for their home opener on Wednesday at 7 p.m. versus Montevallo before hitting the road to close out the 2020 portion of the schedule Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. at Lee. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the men's basketball schedule page.