VALDOSTA, Ga. – West Alabama hit 12-of-14 free throws in the final two minutes of the game to defeat Valdosta State 73-66 in Gulf South Conference women's basketball action at The Complex Saturday evening.
With the win, UWA improved to 10-12 overall and 5-9 in GSC play while Valdosta State fell to 14-9 and 7-8.
After a slow start, in which it missed its first six shots of the game, Valdosta State caught fire to grab an early lead. Trailing 4-0, VSU made its next six field goal attempts to race out to a 14-8 advantage. Ashley Johnson opened the run with a pair of buckets before Kourtnee Williams hit two free throws to even the game. After a Brittany Weathers bucket for West Alabama, Kamyia Smith once again evened the game with a basket while Johnson gave VSU its first lead of the night with her third basket. Smith followed with two more scores to give the Lady Blazers a six-point advantage with 12:25 to play in the half.
VSU pushed its advantage to 10 points four minutes later only to have West Alabama battle back. The Tigers scored eight straight points as four different players scored buckets, to close UWA to within 21-19.
Valdosta State stretched its lead back to four points on its next possession, but West Alabama scored the next five points to regain the lead. The two teams exchanged the advantage three times the remainder of the half before playing to a 28-28 tie at the intermission.
Williams carried the Lady Blazers in the opening moments of the second half as she scored 10 of VSU's first 12 points of the frame. However, West Alabama kept the game close as the lead exchanged hands five times during the first nine minute of the frame.
The Tigers took advantage of a cold shooting streak by Valdosta State to build its largest lead as a 10-0 spurt by UWA gave it a 51-43 advantage with 8:43 to play. However, West Alabama would not score for the next four minutes of play, allowing Valdosta State to go on a 14-0 run to regain the lead. Four different Lady Blazers scored during the run, led by Williams with six.
Nikkia Jordan eventually ended the West Alabama scoreless streak with a pair of free throws and UWA responded with 13 of the next 14 points to once again regain the lead for good.
Williams led Valdosta State with 20 points while Smith added 14 and Brittney Nelson 10. VSU shot 38.6 percent from the floor in the game.
Weathers led all scorers with 26 points, including 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final two minutes. Jordan added 25 while Jamie Gunter had 10. The Tigers made 25-of-53 shots to shoot 47.2 percent from the floor and finished the game 19-of-25 from the free throw line.
Valdosta State returns to action next Saturday, February 23 when it plays its final home game of the 2012-13 season. The Lady Blazers will face West Florida at 2:00 p.m., with the VSU seniors being honored prior to the game.