Lady Blazers Prevail in OT Thriller

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VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State’s second game of the season against Fort Valley State proved to be a thriller that was in question until the final whistle. The Lady Blazers won, 56-51, in overtime thanks to a huge three-pointer from the night’s high scorer, Brittney Nelson, to improve to 5-2 for the season. Fort Valley State drops to 2-2.

She added eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in 43 minutes of play. Nelson was also efficient in her offensive attack, shooting 75 percent overall and beyond the arc (9-12, 6-8).

Providing scoring support and stepping up to knock down all important free throws at the end was sophomore guard and the team’s leading scorer on the season, Kourtnee Williams. She was the only other Lady Blazer to score in double figures, finishing with 11 points despite going scoreless in the first half with two turnovers and three rebounds. The diminutive player bounced back in the second half to lead the team in rebounding with nine. She added five steals and an assist in 45 minutes of play.

Kamyia Smith was the playmaker on the night for VSU, giving out five assists while Courtney Sprague chipped in nine points.

Nelson’s shooting was unbelievable and kept the Lady Blazers in the game in the early going. At one point early in the second half, Nelson was responsible for nearly 60 percent of VSU’s scoring output.

The Lady Blazers were able to outscore Fort Valley State on the break, but earned the victory despite trailing in points in the paint, 32-20; points off turnovers, 20-16; second chance points, 14-4; and rebounds, 47-40.

Valdosta State did force 22 turnovers in the contest on 12 steals. The Lady Blazer defense also closed out well on FVSU’s outside shooters all night, forcing an 18.2 percent shooting night beyond the arc for the Wildcats.

The Lady Blazers built a nine-point lead in the second half, which proved to be the largest of the game for either team. With just under seven minutes left to play though, the Wildcats started chipping away.

Dominique Collier scored on a lay-up and Briana Shepherd converted one of two free throws after a Brooke Satterfield foul. Markisha Washington scored another lay-up to pull within four before the Lady Blazers could score again.

After an Ivana Domljanovic free throw, Keyerra Rozier pulled the Wildcats to within three with another lay-up. Domljanovic answered back yet again with a jumper in the paint, but Shepher scored on the next three plays with a lay-up and a free throw followed by a jump shot to tie the game, 47-47, with three minutes left to play. Only four more points were scored in regulation, two for each team to force overtime.

There wasn’t much scoring in overtime, but the important point was that Valdosta State did more of it. The Lady Blazers scored the first two points of the extra period on Williams free throws, but Dominique Collier tied the game with a lay-up with 43 seconds left.

After a timeout and with just 28 seconds left, Sprague found Nelson for her final points of the night. Without hesitation Nelson launched the ball as soon as it touched her hands for a three ball that hit nothing but the bottom of the net to claim a three-point lead for the Lady Blazers, 54-51.

Next, the swarming VSU defense forced a turnover from the Wildcats. From there, Head Coach Kiley Hill wanted nobody but Williams to have the ball as she leads the team in free throw percentage at 82.8 percent on the season. Tuesday night she was a perfect six for six and tacked on two more to put the game out of reach.

The Lady Blazers next take to the floor Friday, December 14, against Eckerd at The Complex.