CLEVELAND, Tenn. – On a cold, snowy weekend in Cleveland, Tenn., the red hot Valdosta State women's basketball team caught fire in the second half on Saturday for an 80-78 comeback Gulf South Conference win over the Lee Lady Flames.
The loss for Lee marked their first home loss of the 2016-17 season and dropped the Lady Flames to 9-3 overall, 4-2 in GSC play. Meanwhile, the Lady Blazers scored their fifth straight victory to improve to 8-4 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The five-game winning streak marks the longest for VSU since 2011-12, when the Lady Blazers reeled off nine-straight.
After a sub-par performance in the first half, the Lady Blazers scored just 25 points and trailed by 15 points heading into the halftime break. Lee expanded on their lead early in the second half and looked as if they might run away with the contest after opening up a 19-point advantage midway through the third quarter.
The Lady Blazers had other ideas, however, and it all started with junior Madi Mitchell. At the 5:18 mark in the third, Mitchell connected for a pair of free throws, which triggered a 20-5 run for Valdosta State over the final five minutes of the frame and allowed VSU to pull to within four at 57-53.
That momentum carried into the fourth, as Valdosta State continued to chip away before taking their first lead of the game at 76-74 on a pair of Mitchell free throws with 1:45 to play in regulation. The points represented two of a career-high 28-points by Mitchell, and although the Flames tied the game up twice during the final two minutes, the Lady Blazers never trailed again.
Valdosta State's final opportunity came with just 7.9 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, and guard Sonya Franklin answered the call with a cut to the basket and a successful layup at the 0.9-second mark. Lee's desperation attempt at the buzzer came up short, and VSU came away victorious.
Mitchell complemented her incredible offensive effort with 13 rebounds, which led to her seventh double-double of the season. She was accompanied by Franklin, Kenya Samone' Dixon, and Aaliyah Cheatham, each of which reached double-digit figures in the scoring column.
Valdosta State used a 51.3 percent shooting percentage in the second half to help overcome a paltry 22.2 percentage from the field in the first half. Additionally, the Lady Blazer defense held the Lady Flames to a 38.2 shooting percentage in the second half, well below their 48.5 percent performance in the first half.
The Lady Blazers will take their current winning streak to Rome, Ga. on Monday night for another road matchup against the Hawks. The contest is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. start.