Behind 22 points from graduate student Kwajelin Farrar and 20 points from sophomore Tamiya Francis, the No. 18 Valdosta State women's basketball team responded nicely with an 81-54 victory over West Florida Saturday afternoon at The Complex.
Farrar finished 10 of 13 from the field and 2 of 3 from the line for her third 20-plus point game of the season. She pulled down four rebounds with one assist and two steals. Francis scored a season-high 20 points on 7 of 10 from the field, 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and 2 of 2 from the line. She had two rebounds and five assists. Graduate student Delaney Bernard added ten points with two triples and freshman India Jordan scored ten points off the bench. Saturday's game marked the first time this season the Lady Blazers had two players score 20 or more points in the same game. Graduate student Mallory O'Dell recorded seven points and a season-high 14 rebounds.
As a team, the Lady Blazers shot 55.6 percent on 30 of 54 from the field, while they were 7 of 17 from beyond the arc and went 14 of 19 from the line. VSU held a 34-25 lead in rebounding as it marked just the third time this season UWF was out rebounded in a game. VSU forced UWF into 15 turnovers, leading to a 15-9 lead in points off turnovers.
VSU improved to 15-4 overall and 10-2 in Gulf South Conference play, while UWF fell to 14-5 overall and 8-4 in league play. The Argos were led by 12 points from Jaclyn Jarnot as she was 4 of 11 from the field, 2 of 5 from deep and 2 of 2 from the line. VSU held Jarnot, who entered averaging 16.8 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, to just three rebounds for the game. Zoe Piller and Rafaella Piassa each had nine points. The Argos shot 18 of 49 from the field (36.7%) while they were 5 of 19 from deep and 13 of 17 from the line.
With the shot clock winding down, Francis buried a triple at the top of the arc for a 13-7 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter as both teams began the contest 1 of 2 from beyond the arc. Jarnot pulled UWF within 13-10 with her second trey of the game.
Piller made one free throw then gathered her own rebound and put back, pulling UWF within 16-13 with 37 seconds left in the frame, but a great triple in the corner from graduate student Nicole Heyn gave VSU a 19-13 lead through one quarter.
VSU started the game 7 of 12 from the field for 58.3 percent, while going 2 of 4 from deep and 3 of 4 from the line. UWF was 4 of 12 from the field and 2 of 7 from beyond the arc, while it also was 3 of 4 at the charity stripe. The Argos buried a school-record 16, 3-pointers on Tuesday in a victory at Spring Hill College.
Farrar put up a step back jumper in the lane and was fouled for a 23-13 lead with 8:09 left in the half and the largest lead of the game to that point. Farrar scored on the ensuing VSU possession inside for a 25-13 lead, forcing a timeout by the Argos at the 7:39 mark in the half.
A turnover on the Argos and Farrar's 14th point of the half pushed the lead to 27-13 with just over seven minutes left in the half. Farrar scored on two free throws and UWF turned the ball over in the backcourt for a 29-13 VSU lead, stretching the run to 10-0 to start the second quarter. Off a turnover by UWF, a steal and score in transition by freshman India Jordan, pushed the lead to 31-13 lead with 5:30 left in the half and a 12-0 run to start the quarter and a 15-0 spurt since the closing seconds of the first frame.
Following a turnover on VSU, Charlotte Ellmore scored on a trey for the Argos and a 31-16 score, ending the run with 3:41 left in the half. Moments later, Farrar ended a 5-0 run by the Argos with a nice post move and score for her 18th point of the half and a 33-18 score with just over a minute left in the half. Francis followed with a triple – her second of the half, for a 36-18 score. Jenna Gallimore scored her first points of the game for UWF as the half ended with VSU leading 36-20.
For the half, VSU shot 51.9 percent on 14 of 27 from the field, while it was 3 of 6 from beyond the arc and 5 of 7 from the line. VSU held a 17-15 lead in rebounding and forced UWF into 12 turnovers, leading to a 10-5 advantage in points off turnovers. Individually, Farrar was 8 of 10 from the field for the half and 2 of 3 from the line for 18 points. Francis added ten points in the half on 4 of 7 from the field and 2 of 4 from deep.
The Argos were led by eight points from Jarnot, who entered the game averaging 16.8 points per game and 13.4 rebounds per game. Jarnot had one rebound the half. UWF finished the half 7 of 23 from the field (30.4%), while it was 3 of 13 from beyond the arc and 3 of 4 from the line.
Buckets from Farrar and sophomore Lili Long just 1:12 into the second half forced UWF into a timeout as VSU stretched the lead to 40-20. Piassa scored inside, but graduate student Delaney Bernard answered at the other end for a trey and a 43-22 lead. A steal by Heyn, score from Farrar and trey from Francis, pushed the lead to 49-22 with 6:20 left in the third and a 10-2 start to the second half.
Francis scored inside on a coast-to-coast layup for a 54-24 lead and an 18-4 start to the third quarter for the Lady Blazers. Heyn made two free throws for a 56-24 lead with 3:49 left in the quarter and two more buckets extended the lead to 60-24 for a 24-4 start to the half. Francis buried a late triple, her fourth of the game, for a 68-28 lead as VSU scored 32 points in the third quarter to UWF's 10. VSU led 68-30 through three frames.
The Argos put together a strong final frame and used a 9-0 run to pull within 80-52 with 1:42 left in the contest as VSU settled for the 81-54 victory.
VSU continues at home next Thursday and Saturday, beginning with Alabama Huntsville at 6 p.m. on Feb. 3, followed by a Feb. 5 matchup with West Alabama at 2 p.m.
For the second time this season, the Valdosta State vs. West Florida game came down to the final seconds. The Blazers posted an 84-81 victory Saturday afternoon at The Complex to split the season series. The Blazers went 3 of 4 in the final 2.6 seconds for the three-point victory.
VSU led for the majority of the final 12 minutes of the second half and held a 79-74 lead with just under two minutes remaining. After a miss by the Blazers, an offensive rebound and score from UWF pulled the Argos within 79-76 and 56.5 seconds remaining.
UWF fouled sophomore Cam Selders putting him at the line for two shots with 42.4 seconds left. Selders missed the first shot and made the second for an 80-76 lead and LaTrell Tate hit an off-balance 3-pointer pulling UWF within 80-79 and 34.6 seconds remaining. VSU turned the ball over on an errant pass on the in-bounds play. Tate's lean in jumper was rejected by VSU junior Jacolbey Owens who was fouled on the rebound. He made one of two for an 81-79 lead with 15 seconds left.
UWF's Daniel Sofield scored with seven seconds remaining and Selders was hacked with 2.6 seconds remaining, beginning a frantic finish. Selders made both free throws and UWF's in bounds pass went out of bounds giving the ball back to VSU. Following a timeout by the Blazers, Tate fouled Owens before the ball was put into play. Owens missed the first toss and made the second as UWF's desperation heave at the buzzer fell short.
Back on Jan. 8, in Pensacola, Fla., UWF won with a bucket from Wendell Matthews with six seconds left in overtime for the Argos.
With the key mid-season win, the Blazers improved to 10-9 overall and 6-6 in Gulf South Conference play, while UWF fell to 15-5 overall and 9-4 in league play. VSU juniors Jacolbey Owens and Mohamed Fofana each had 18 points and combined for 13 of 24 from the field leading four players in double figures. Sophomore Michael Cole added 15 points on 5 of 9 from the field and 5 of 7 from the line, while junior Cam Hamilton added 12 points and ten rebounds, including five steals.
As a team, the Blazers were 29 of 63 from the field, 5 of 19 from deep and 21 of 32 from the line, including 5 of 8 from the line in the final minute. VSU forced UWF into 17 turnovers and held a 17-10 lead in points off turnovers.
The Argos were led by 20 points from Sofield on 7 of 13 from the field, 2 of 6 from deep and 4 of 4 from the line with nine rebounds. Tate chipped in 15 points as UWF shot an even 50 percent from the field on 30 of 60 from the field, 8 of 20 from beyond the arc and 13 of 20 from the line.
The Blazers started out the game on fire as junior Jacolbey Owens got things started with a triple and then freshman Ricky Brown buried a triple for a 6-1 lead, followed by a sophomore Michael Cole jumper and Owens scored his fifth point on a jumper for a 10-4 start with 17:49 left in the half.
UWF's David Petit-Homme buried a trey for a 15-9 score with 16:37 left in the half and Brandon Burford's jumper pulled the Argos within 15-11 with 14:41 remaining. UWF stretched the run to 13-0 and a 19-15 lead as UWF made five of its last six field goals. VSU was 1 of its last nine during the run and was scoreless for the last 4:36. Kendall Bynum made one of two free throws for a 20-15 lead with 12:18 left in the half. Following a miss from the Blazers, UWF's LaTrell Tate buried a triple for a 23-15 lead, extending the run to 17-0. VSU junior Mohammed Fofana ended the run with a jumper in the paint for a 23-17 score.
Junior Cam Hamilton hit a step back jumper, pulling VSU within 23-20 with nine minutes remaining in the half, but an offensive rebound and put back from Jackson Henningfield stretched the back to five. A bucket inside from Fofana pulled VSU within 27-24 with 7:29 on the clock.
Two free throws from VSU sophomore Kelan Walker pulled the Blazers within 27-26 out of a media timeout, but the Argos had the answer with a triple from Jejuan Weatherspoon at the other end. Weatherspoon then got his own rebound and back up for a bucket, pushing the lead to 32-26. Hamilton's jumper in the corner pulled VSU within 32-30 with 4:30 left in the half and his eight point of the contest.
Two free throws from Brown and a steal and foul on the Argos put VSU at the line with the chance to tie. Fofana made both free throws to tie the game at 35 with 2:43 left in the half. UWF's Daniel Sofield answered with a trey at the other end – his first points of the game and a 38-35 advantage. Fofana scored inside for the final bucket of the half and a 40-37 VSU deficit at halftime.
Hamilton opened the second half with a triple to tie the game at 40 with 19:37 left. Following a missed shot by the Argos, Fofana scored in transition for a 42-40 lead and the first Blazer lead since 14:29 in the first half.
An intentional foul was called on Wendell Matthews as Hamilton went to the line tying the game at 49 with 15:51 remaining in regulation for the fourth tie of the game. Sophomore Cam Selders put VSU back in front 53-52 with 13 minutes and change left, but Sofield followed with a trey for a 55-53 Argo lead.
Back-to-back buckets from Owens put VSU in front 59-57 and a steal and layup from Selders stretched the lead to 61-57 with 11:37 remaining in regulation. Cole's offensive rebound and score pushed the VUS lead back to four at 63-59 with 10:30 remaining.
Over the next four minutes, VSU kept the 2-4 point-lead and held a 68-65 advantage with six minutes remaining. Hamilton came up with a big offensive rebound and scored on a floater in the lane for a 70-65 lead with 5:19 left.
Junior Maurice Gordon hit a triple for a 75-69 lead with 3:43 remaining, but Sofield finished at the other end and Owens earned the "and one" for the Blazers for a 77-71 lead with 3:12 left. Out of the final media timeout, Owens missed the free throw as the game went under three minutes remaining. Matthews made one of two free throws for a 77-72 VSU advantage.
The Blazers are back in action on February 3 at 8 p.m. to host the Alabama Huntsville Chargers inside the Complex and then will host West Alabama on February 5 at 4 p.m.