VALDOSTA, Ga. – Head Coach Kiley Hill and the Lady Blazers proved they’re not done with this season yet Saturday night with a 57-56 victory over Gulf South Conference top team North Alabama. Tied at 54-54 with just under a minute left, Brittney Nelson buried a dagger from three to help Valdosta State survive a second half onslaught from North Alabama.
The Lady Blazers started the game hot, building an 11-point lead in the first five minutes when Nelson hit another of her four three-pointers on the night to make it 16-5. From there, VSU tried to put the Lions away early.
Using a combination of inside and outside scoring, the Lady Blazers extended the lead to 18 points, 35-17, with just over a minute to play in the opening frame. North Alabama was able to hit a last second three, but VSU still claimed a 14-point lead at the break.
In the first half, Valdosta State shot 44.8 percent overall while putting together a blistering 60 percent performance on six of 10 from three-point land.
North Alabama used the momentum the Lions closed out the first half with in the second half, showing why they could be the top seed in the Gulf South Conference Tournament. In the first nine minutes of the second half, the Lions whittled down the VSU lead to just three points, 42-39.
Jennifer Towne tied the game, 44-44, on one free throw and claimed UNA’s first lead since the first basket of the game on the next, 45-44. The Lions would push the lead to two points with 5:42 left to play on a Nichelle Fillmore free throw, but Ashley Johnson answered with a lay-up for Valdosta State. Kourtnee Williams followed with a three-pointer off a Jasmine Mapp assist to put VSU up, 49-46 with 4:47 left in the game.
North Alabama was able to tie the game two more times before the clock ran out, but Nelson’s three ball with 49 seconds left put VSU up by three. North Alabama was able to pull within one on the next position and had the last possession of the game. However, Kamyia Smith made her most important steal of the season to date to clinch the victory for the Lady Blazers.
Nelson led all scorers with 22 points while Courtney Sprague added 14 points. Kourtnee Williams scored nine points with three assists, three rebounds and a steal while Smith gave out six assists with three steals. Johnson led a balanced team effort on the glass with five rebounds while Nelson and Mapp each added four.
For UNA, Mekena Randle scored 21 points with nien rebounds, but Valdosta State limited all other Lions while forcing 17 turnovers on eight steals.
Valdosta State improves to 11-8 on the season and 4-7 in the conference while UNA drops to 7-4 in the league and 14-7 overall.
The Lady Blazers take to the road for games against Alabama-Huntsville and Shorter next week.