After a slow start, the No. 18 Valdosta State women's basketball team outscored visiting West Georgia 43-27 in the second half for a 63-37 victory Saturday evening in the Gulf South Conference opener for VSU.
The Lady Blazers (6-1, 1-0 GSC) had a double-double from graduate student Kwajelin Farrar with 14 points and ten rebounds leading three players in double figures. She went 7 of 14 from the field with three assists and one block, while graduate student Nicole Heyn went 5 of 12 from the field with two free throws for 12 points and six rebounds, while freshman Taylor Searcey had her second-straight game in double figures with 11 points off the bench.
In a tale of two halves, the Lady Blazers struggled offensively in the first half, but went 15 of 28 from the field in the second half, including a blistering 10 of 16 from the floor in the third quarter alone. The Lady Blazers finished the game 21 of 57 from the field for a 36.8 percent clip, while going 2 of 9 from beyond the arc and 19 of 24 from the line. VSU held a 45-29 lead in rebounding and outscored UWG 26-14 in points off turnovers, while dominating inside to the tune of 36-16 in points in the paint.
UWG (2-4, 0-2 GSC) didn't have a player in double figures in the game, but was led by eight points from Mariah Holder. The Wolves were 13 of 48 from the field in the game for 27.1 percent, while it they were 3 of 14 from beyond the arc and 8 of 11 from the line.
In an offensive struggle to start the game, neither team scored until graduate student Delaney Bernard hit two free throws with 5:38 left in the quarter. UWG's Zaria Bankston pulled the Wolves within 4-2 with 4:08 left in the quarter, but the Lady Blazers finished the frame on a 9-0 run for an 11-2 lead through one frame. The two points allowed in the quarter marked the lowest output against under Blazer head coach Deandra Schirmer in her tenure at VSU.
UWG's Aniedi Nsentip hit a jumper with 8:38 left in the half for an 11-4 VSU lead, ending a scoring drought of over five minutes as the Wolves opened the frame on a 7-0 run pulling within 11-9 capped on a triple from Siera Carter with 6:27 left in the half. Carter then made one of two free throws extending the run to 8-0 with 5:01 remaining in the half.
From there, VSU closed the half on a 9-0 run for a 20-10 lead at intermission. VSU finished the half 6 of 29 from the field, but went 8 of 10 from the line. Searcey had seven points off the bench to lead the team. UWG went 4 of 24 from the field, 1 of 7 from range and was 1 of 2 at the line. Carter and Nsentip each had four points to lead the Wolves. Both teams had a combined 26 turnovers for the half.
UWG scored the first points of the second half for a 20-12 margin, but buckets from Heyn and Farrar sparked a 14-5 run for a 34-15 lead and a timeout by the Wolves with 5:07 left in the frame. VSU extended the lead to 40-17 through three frames, capped with a bucket from Searcey, as the clock was winding down in the third for her ninth point of the game.
VSU opened the fourth quarter on a 9-4 run, highlighted by a triple from sophomore Lili Long for a 49-21 advantage with 7:41 left. Out of a timeout, Farrar extended the lead to 30 at 51-21 with a turnaround jumper with 6:54 left. Four free throws on separate possessions from graduate student Mallory Odell pushed the lead to 57-23 with less than five minutes remaining. VSU went on for the 63-37 victory.
The Lady Blazers make their first conference road trip of the season next week with a Saturday matchup at Shorter at 2 p.m., and then at Lee on Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.
Junior guard Jacolbey Owens and sophomore guard DJ Mitchell led the Blazers' offense with 16 points each as VSU fell to the West Georgia Wolves Saturday night to open Gulf South Conference play at home.
The Blazers (4-3, 0-1 GSC) suffered their third loss of the season after a valiant 40 minutes of action. VSU shot 18 of 30 (60%) from the field in the first half and four of ten outside the arc (40%).
The Blazers jumped out to an early lead, 9-1, after a made jump shot from junior forward Michael Cole and a made free throw by sophomore guard Cam Selders. VSU entered the locker room with a slight lead over the Wolves, 49-46.
In the second half, the Blazers were held to a 31.03 field goal percentage, going nine of 29 from the field and missing all eight three-point attempts. VSU ended the match trailing the Wolves 86-79.
For the Wolves (3-4, 1-1 GSC), Kadeim Jones led the offense with 19 points along with seven rebounds. Seth Brown-Carter put up 18 points on the night while also grabbing six rebounds.
Junior forward Mohamed Fofana led VSU in rebounds with eight while also recording ten points on the night, one assist, and one steal. Owens recorded four assists, one block, and one steal while Mitchell grabbed seven rebounds.
The Blazers went 27 of 59 from the field and four of 18 outside the arc in the game. VSU recorded 19 points off turnovers and sunk 21 of 30 (70%) free throws.
The Blazers will be back in action on Tuesday to take on Clayton State at 7:30 p.m. in Morrow, Georgia.