Valdiosta, GA - Valdosta State prevailed, 50-42, in a matchup of the Gulf South Conference’s preseason top two teams. Delta State was the top preseason pick by the coaches, but VSU proved the Lady Blazers may have been overlooked.
Both teams are also the top two teams in the GSC in scoring defense so it was no surprise to see a 50-42 game for Head Coach Kiley Hill’s first career victory over Delta State.
In a game with these two defenses, every score is important so Brittney Nelson’s four of six night from three-point land was big for VSU. Nelson finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench. Brittany Ferguson secured her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Both players contributed two blocks each to outblock Delta State, 5-2.
Ferguson was limited in minutes due to early foul trouble, but clinched her double-double with her tenth rebound with 18 seconds left to play. Her defense, as well as that of Courtney Mitchell’s, held the league leader in double-doubles, Veronica Walker, to just six rebounds. She did finish with 17 points while the Lady Blazer defense limited all the other Lady Statesmen to no more than six points each.
Valdosta State won the rebound battle in overwhelming fashion, 36-28 and hit the offensive boards for a 10-3 advantage.
On the offensive side of the ball, Maylisa Johnson gave out five assists with four rebounds and two points running the VSU offense.
As with all games between these teams, this one was close throughout. But the possession of the game may have come in the last two minutes. After Delta State pulled within six on a Walker free throw with 1:46 left to play, VSU did not give up the ball until more than a minute later.
Ferguson rebounded Walker’s missed free throw, but Delta State stole the ball back. Ferguson then blocked Walker and the rebound went to VSU. Ferguson brought down the rebound off a Johnson free throw and the Blazers held the ball for 27 seconds before Hill called a timeout.
With just three seconds left on the shot clock, Nelson threw up a jump shot from the short corner and was able to secure another offensive rebound to help VSU drain the clock. Delta State’s Brittany Roberts fouled Sczeny Hartry after that. The senior buried both free throws to secure the game for Valdosta State and give the team an eight-point lead with just 39 seconds left. She hit two more with 12 seconds to ice the game.
The win gives Valdosta State it’s seventh victory in a row headed into its second conference matchup Saturday. The Lady Blazers will face Christian Brothers at 6 p.m. at The Complex.