A 20-2 first quarter led the No. 19 Valdosta State women's basketball team to a 76-58 victory over visiting Mississippi College Saturday afternoon. VSU improved to 13-2 overall and 8-1 in Gulf South Conference play with the victory as VSU won its season-high sixth-straight game.
The Choctaws (8-7, 3-5 GSC) wouldn't go quietly as they pulled within three points in the third quarter and used a 15-5 run to end the first half to get back into the game. VSU responded with a 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter to pull away. MC had pulled within 41-38 with 5:12 left in the third, but the Lady Blazers responded with a 27-7 run from that point until the 5:21 mark of the fourth quarter and a 68-45 lead.
For the game, VSU shot 24 of 50 from the field for 48 percent, while it was 9 of 17 from range (52.9%) and 19 of 23 from the line. Sophomore Tamiya Francis had a team-high 17 points on 5 of 9 from the field, 1 of 3 from beyond the arc and a perfect 6 of 6 from the line, along with five rebounds, four assists and one steal leading three Lady Blazers in double figures. Graduate student Nicole Heyn finished with a double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Heyn was 5 of 7 from the field, 2 of 4 from beyond the arc and 4 of 6 from the line with three steals. Graduate student Mallory Odell had a hard-working ten points off the bench with five rebounds.
The Choctaws finished shooting 33.9 percent on 20 of 59 from the floor, while going 8 of 25 from beyond the arc and 10 of 16 from the line. Ally Alford had a game-high 18 points on 7 of 13 from the field, 3 of 6 from deep and 1 of 1 from the line and Dezirae King added 11 points as both came off the bench in the game.
Back-to-back triples from Heyn and fellow graduate student Delaney Bernard got the Lady Blazers off and running for a 6-0 lead three minutes into the contest. MC began the game 0-5 from the field and graduate student Kwajelin Farrar stretched the lead to 8-0 to begin the game. Two free throws from sophomore Lili Long stretched the lead to 10-0. A free throw by Heyn and a triple from Odell swelled the lead to 14-0 and a timeout by the Choctaws with 2:39 left in the first. Heyn made one of two at the line, once again, for a 15-0 lead with 2:10 left in the quarter.
MC missed its tenth-straight shot and Francis was fouled in transition, converting two shots for a 17-0 lead. Foul trouble started to mount for the Choctaws with one player with three fouls and two with two fouls as freshman Taylor Searcey built the lead to 18-0, before Alford scored in the final minute for the first two points of the game for the Choctaws. A nice give-and-go to Heyn from Francis pushed the lead to 20-2 for the first quarter. Heyn scored seven points in the opening quarter for the Lady Blazers.
VSU began the game 5 of 11 from the field and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, while going 7 of 10 from the line for the frame. MC was 1 of 13 from the field and 0 of 7 from range for the quarter, as VSU held a 14-4 lead in rebounding and forced eight miscues by the Choctaws in the frame.
Following two free throws from the Choctaws early in the second, Searcey broke the MC press and found Bernard open in the corner for a three and Francis then scored on the ensuing possession for a 25-4 score and eight minutes left in the half.
MC's Dezirae King hit a three, but Francis answered with a pullup jumper for her sixth point of the game and a 27-7 lead with seven minutes left in the half. MC pulled within 27-13 capped with a triple from Alford with 5:47 left in the half. Freshman India Jordan got into the act from range for a 30-13 lead and a steal from graduate student Kwajelin Farrar led to a 32-13 score on a layup from sophomore Lili Long with 4:44 left remaining in the half. Out of a media timeout, Farrar scored inside for a 34-13 and her fourth point of the game.
The Choctaws cut the deficit to 12 with a triple from Kyiah Julian for a 36-24 score with just over a minute remaining in the half. Following a miss from VSU, MC cut the deficit to ten, but sophomore Kendall Bollmer connected from range and MC's Jay Levy scored at the buzzer for a 39-28 score at intermission.
For the half, VSU was 12 of 25 from the field for 48 percent, 6 of 10 from beyond the arc and 9 of 12 from the line. MC was 8 of 26 shooting for the half and was 7 of 13 in the second quarter, while going 4 of 6 from range in the frame and 8 of 10 from the line to get back into the contest. There were a combined 28 turnovers in the first half, with MC recording 12 steals and VSU with nine thefts through 20 minutes of play.
VSU held a game-high 21-point lead with 3:54 left in the second quarter at 34-13, before MC closed the half on a 15-5 run.
Julian hit a triple for a 39-31 deficit with 8:30 left in the third quarter and Taylor Ben scored inside off her own offensive rebound pulling the Choctaws within six at 39-33 with 7:15 remaining in the quarter and a 5-0 spurt to begin the second half, extending the run to 20-5 since the 3:54 mark of the second quarter.
Heyn got the Lady Blazers on the board in the second half with a bucket off an offensive rebound from Farrar and a 41-33 lead, but Alford answered with a trey at the other end and an 8-2 start to the second half. Another offensive rebound by the Choctaws and a score from Amelia Bell cut the deficit to 41-38 with five minutes left in the frame.
A turnover on the Choctaws and a score in transition for Odell with a foul pushed the VSU lead back to double-digits at 53-42 with 2:14 left in the third. Odell then scored on a hard-working play and her third chance on the possession for a 55-42 score, but the Choctaws wouldn't go away as King answered with her ninth point of the game on a triple for a 55-45 score through three quarters.
An 11-0 start to the fourth quarter for the Lady Blazers pushed the lead to 66-45 with just over six minutes left as MC began the quarter 0 for 5 from the field. Bernard capped the run with a triple from the top of the arc. The run continued with a bucket in transition off a miscue by MC for a 68-45 lead with 5:21 remaining and the largest lead of the game. One of two free throws from Kayla Bradley ended the run with 5:15 left and a 68-46 score. Alford buried her third trey of the game and scored off the in bounds play for a 68-51 score.
VSU went on for the 76-58 victory as third-year head coach Deandra Schirmer improved to 49-17 at VSU and earned her first victory over Mississippi College. The win moved VSU to 21-12 all-time against MC and snapped a two-game skid against the Choctaws, while giving VSU its eighth victory in 13 meetings in the series in Valdosta.
VSU returns to the road next week with a pair of games in the Volunteer State, beginning Thursday at Christian Brothers at 6 p.m. ET and then a critical game Saturday, Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. ET at Union in what most likely will be a matchup of nationally ranked teams.
A 16-3 run to begin the second half sparked the Valdosta State men's basketball team to an 87-70 come-from-behind victory Saturday afternoon against Mississippi College. VSU trailed by as many as 13 early in the game and improved to 9-7 overall and 5-4 in Gulf South Conference play, while the Choctaws fell to 4-10 overall and 2-6 in league play.
VSU won its ninth-straight game in the series against MC as the Blazers finished 30 of 60 from the field and 11 of 21 from downtown, while going 16 of 23 from the line. Five Blazers finished in double figures as junior Jacolbey Owens had 12 points and 11 assists with five rebounds for his first double-double of the season and first of his VSU career. His 11 assists were good for a VSU career-high and the most by a Blazer individually this season. Junior Cam Hamilton had a team-high 18 points on 6 of 13 from the field and 4 of 7 from range, while going 2 of 2 from the line. He narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Junior Mike Cole finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while junior Mohamed Fofana added 10 points and freshman Ricky Brown chipped in 11 points.
MC was led by 15 points from Lamont Berzat on 5 of 10 from the field and 2 of 6 from range, while he was 3 of 4 from the line. Galen Smith and Tradavis Thompson each had 13 points. Smith finished with a team-high eight rebounds as the Choctaws went 28 of 67 from the field (41.8%), 4 of 21 from deep and 10 of 13 from the line.
The Choctaws opened a 7-3 lead early and built the advantage to 13-5 through the first five minutes of the contest. Berzat extended the lead to 16-7 and then a steal and score in transition pushed the lead to 18-7 with 12 minutes left in the first half as VSU was cold from the field, beginning 2 of 9 from floor. Berzat buried a jumper for a 20-7 lead, but Blazer sophomore Jeremy Golson knocked down a trey for a 20-10 score.
Following a turnover by MC, junior Cam Hamilton buried a triple in transition for a 22-13 deficit with 10 minutes left in the half and then Mohamed Fofana drained one from downtown, pulling the Blazers within 22-16 with 9:44 left and a timeout by the Choctaws. After another turnover on the Choctaws, Hamilton scored on a layup for a 22-18 deficit as VSU extended the run to 8-0. Junior Mike Cole pulled VSU within a bucket at 22-20 with eight minutes left in the half on a nice move inside and a 10-0 run. MC's Galen Smith ended the run with a layup for a 24-20 score and 7:37 remaining in the half.
The Choctaws pushed the lead to eight at 30-22 and a timeout by the Blazers with 4:50 left on a jumper from Smith for his sixth point of the game. Junior Jacolbey Owens was fouled hard in transition and made two free throws for a 30-26 deficit and four minutes left in the first half. At the other end, Berzat nailed a triple, followed by a trey from freshman Ricky Brown at the other end. After a miss by MC, Brown drained his second triple for a 33-32 deficit and 2:35 remaining in the half. An offensive foul on the Choctaws gave VSU the ball back looking for its first lead of the contest.
Smith earned the "and one" with 1:04 left in the half for the Choctaws pushing the lead to 36-32. Owens buried a very contested trey to pull VSU within 36-35 late in the half. VSU got a steal and missed a potential put back at the buzzer.
VSU shot 12 of 33 from the field for 36.4 percent, while it was 7 of 14 from range and 4 of 7 from the line. Brown had a team-high nine points for the half – all from deep. The Choctaws were led by Smith with nine points also as MC was 16 of 33 from the field for 48.5 percent, while it was 3 of 11 from range and 1 of 1 from the line. Both teams had nine turnovers in the half, while VSU held a 22-18 lead in rebounding in a contrasting half as 21 points for the Blazers were from beyond the arc, while MC held a 22-6 lead in points in the paint.
Hamilton scored following an offensive rebound on the first possession of the second half, giving VSU its first lead of the game at 37-36 and Cole then scored on an assist from Owens, followed by a turnover on the Choctaws.
With VSU up 39-36, Brown scored off the glass for a 41-36 lead capitalizing on the miscue and a 6-0 run to start the half. Cole pushed the lead to six at 43-37 and then a steal and layup from sophomore DJ Mitchell gave VSU a 45-37 lead. A transition dunk from junior Maurice Gordon off an assist from Owens for a 47-37 lead with 16:59 left extending the run to 12-1 to begin the second half and a timeout by the Choctaws. MC began the half 0 of 3 from the field, while VSU was 6 of 7 from the floor.
Hamilton kept the hot start to the half going with a trey for his tenth point of the game and a 50-39 lead with just over 15 minutes left in regulation and a 15-3 run to start the half. It was the eighth trey of the game for the Blazers in 15 attempts, while MC was just 3 of 13 from deep to that point. Hamilton then drained a step back three for a 54-41 lead with 12:25 left and then Fofana scored in transition for a 56-41 lead with 12 minutes left, marking the largest lead of the game to that point.
The game remained between an 11-15-point advantage for the Blazers over the next six minutes change, before Hamilton drained his third triple of the game and a 70-56 lead with six minutes left. Mitchell capped the victory with a late trey and a game-high 85-66 lead with just over a minute left. It was the 11th trey of the game for the Blazers as they finished 11 of 21 from downtown. VSU settled for the 87-70 victory.