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Valdosta State Women, Men Pick Up Basketball Wins Thursday Night

Posted at 12:10 AM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 15:41:21-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. – After a big first half, the Valdosta State women's basketball team fought off a second half rally by visiting Mississippi College for a 63-55 victory Thursday evening at The Complex.  Senior Sonya Franklin paced the team with a game-high 20 points.  

VSU (17-7, 11-5 GSC) jumped out to a 39-16 lead at halftime as the Choctaws outscored VSU 39-24 in the second half, including 26-16 in the fourth quarter to pull within five with a minute left, but Franklin and senior Shon Kitchens made free throws to seal the victory.  


Franklin went 7 of 12 from the field with one triple and 5 of 6 from the line leading two players in double figures as sophomore Kayla Bonilla added 12 points.  Senior Kendra Green added nine rebounds off the bench. VSU shot 36.5 percent for the game, but was just 6 of 24 from the field in the second half and 19 of 52 for the game. The Lady Blazers went 5 of 15 from range and 20 of 27 from the line, including 9 of 14 in the fourth quarter alone. 


MC (6-16, 2-14 GSC) was led by 16 points from Jamilah Sanders who had 11 of 16 points at halftime for the Choctaws.  She was 6 of 9 from the field with one 3-pointer and 3 of 3 from the line. Kaitlyn Thompson added 11 points and Zariah Matthews had 10.  The Choctaws shot 33.9 percent for the game, but went 14 of 31 from the field in the second half to spark the rally.  MC was 4 of 14 from beyond the arc for the game and 13 of 18 from the line.  


The Lady Blazers used an 8-0 run over the final five minutes of the first quarter for a 19-8 lead capped with a triple from junior Nari Garner.  VSU went 7 of 14 from the field with three 3-pointers in the first quarter, while holding the Choctaws to 3 of 12 from the field in the opening quarter. 


In the second quarter, the Lady Blazers turned up the heat an outscored MC 20-8, outscoring the Choctaws 17-8 over the final 6:15 of the half for a 39-16 lead.  VSU shot 46.4 percent for the half on 13 of 28, while going 4 of 8 from beyond the arc and 9 of 11 from the line.  


Franklin had 14 points in the first half on 5 of 8 with a triple and 3 of 4 from the line.  MC shot just 20 percent for the half on 5 of 25, while going 1 of 6 from beyond the arc and 5 of 7 from the line.  VSU held a 21-16 lead in rebounding and led 16-6 in points in the paint for the first half.   MC's Jamilah Sanders had 11 of the 16 points for the Choctaws in the half.

Valdosta State senior Winston Morgan drained eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points on 9 of 14 from the field leading five Blazers in double figures in a 106-90 victory over visiting Mississippi College Thursday evening.  VSU senior Beau Justice had a game-high 27 points as VSU ran its winning streak to five games.


The Blazers (19-5, 12-4 GSC) took over sole possession of second place in the Gulf South Conference with four games remaining, following a loss by Christian Brothers against league-leader West Alabama.  VSU hosts Delta State Saturday at 2 p.m. for Hall of Fame Weekend.  Delta State fell to fourth in the conference with a 73-70 loss at West Florida Thursday evening.  


Against the Choctaws, the Blazers came out on fire as they hit their first five shots of the game with Morgan beginning the contest 3 of 3 from beyond the arc, en route to an early 15-7 lead.  Brandon Boston cut the deficit to four at 15-11, but VSU went on an 11-2 run for a 26-13 lead capped with two free throws from junior Clay Guillozet who finished with 12 points in the game on 3 of 3 from the field and 6 of 6 from the line.  


Junior Bryce Smith posted a dunk off a steal from Guillozet for a 35-19 lead with 9:58 left in the first half, but the Choctaws wouldn't go away quietly as they trimmed the margin to seven at 3528 with 6:33 left in the half, but VSU closed the frame on a commanding 14-5 run for a 51-32 lead at intermission.  


For the half, VSU shot a blistering 62.1 percent on 18 of 29, while going 7 of 13 from beyond the arc and 8 of 8 from the line.  Morgan had 17 points in the first half, while Justice added 12.  Howard Thomas had 10 points for the Choctaws, who shot 15 of 35 from the field (.429), while going 1 of 8 from beyond the arc and 1 of 5 from the line.  


At halftime, VSU honored former Valdosta State men's basketball standout Bobby Ritch who played for Coach Gary Colson's Rebels from 1962-66.  He had an outstanding career and is the only Valdosta State men's basketball player to have his number retired (44).  Ritch was inducted into the VSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and also was the first Valdosta State player to earn All-America honors as he achieved the feat as both a junior and senior. 


The second half turned into a track meet as both teams scored over 50 points in the half with MC shooting 59 percent from the field for the second half and 60 percent from beyond the arc, while VSU shot 56.7 percent in the final stanza and drained seven more triples, while going 14 of 15 from the line.  


For the game, VSU shot 35 of 59 for 59.3 percent, while going 14 of 28 from beyond the arc and 22 of 23 from the line.  Blazer senior Greg Zuppas added 15 points and junior Bryce Smith scored 17 points off the bench.  


MC (5-16, 2-14. GSC) also had five players in double figures led by 16 from Thomas as the Choctaws shot 51.4 percent on 38 of 74.  MC was 7 of 18 from range, but struggled from the line going 7 of 15.  


VSU tallied its sixth game of 100 or more points and second-straight as the Blazers scored 110 points last Saturday at Shorter.  It also marked the second time this season VSU has scored 100 or more points in back-to-back games.