LIVINGSTON, Ala.- The Valdosta State women's basketball team stayed on track for their second win of the season over the Tigers of West Alabama, a 69-60 Gulf South Conference victory on Saturday afternoon in Livingston, Ala.
With the victory, the Lady Blazers boosted their overall record to 12-8 and 9-5 in GSC action. Meanwhile, the Tigers dropped to 6-14 on the season and 3-10 against league opponents.
The first half was all VSU, as the Lady Blazers set the tone early and held West Alabama to just five first quarter points. Valdosta State extended their lead to twelve points at the end of the second quarter with the efforts of both Madi Mitchell and Kenya Samone' Dixon, who each produced ten first-half points.
The Lady Blazers delivered a 33.3 percent shooting effort from the field in the first half, compared to the Tigers' 25.9 percentage for a total of just 18 first-half points VSU was also solid at the free-throw line, as they collectively connected on 9-of-12 from the stripe for a 75.0 percent mark. In contrast, West Alabama landed only 2-of-6 from the free throw line for a 33.3 percent shooting percentage.
After a The Lady Blazers maintained a decent lead throughout the third quarter, VSU found themselves in another fourth quarter shoot-out, as the Tigers slowly clawed their way back into the contest on the back of Ariel Wilson. For West Alabama, Wilson teamed up with Catherine Taylor for a fourth quarter push that pulled UWA to within four points with two minutes remaining in regulation. Strong defense down the stretch helped hold the Tigers at bay, however, and afforded the Lady Blazers an opportunity to pad their lead with an 8-4 run in the final 120 seconds of the game.
"An important key for us late in tonight's game was our defense," said Sonya Franklin. "We've been doing our best to come together as much as possible on defense with our rotations and just try to help one another out. We want to do all we can to wrap possessions up."
Free-throws also proved to be a major factor, as Valdosta State finished the game 19-of-28, compared to West Alabama's 4-of-11 performance. In addition, VSU dominated the boards with 45 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Tigers recorded 38 rebounds overall.
"We spend a lot of time working on our rebounding with the drills we do in practice," added Franklin, who hauled in a team-high nine rebounds. "We focus a lot on that part of our game, and Coach [Carley] Kuhns constantly challenges us on getting in there and beating the other team on the boards. We want to respond to that challenge on both offense and defense."
For Valdosta State, Mitchell tallied her second highest point total of the season with a team-high 27. Franklin also demonstrated another consistent effort with 18 points, while Samone' Dixon chipped in 13 points to round out VSU's offensive push.