Livingston, AL - Valdosta State used a balanced scoring attack and a strong defensive effort to cage the Tigers of West Alabama Thursday night, 68-58. Brittany Ferguson and Brittney Nelson led Valdosta State in scoring to improve to 12-4 on the season and 3-2 in the Gulf South Conference. Meanwhile, UWA falls to 6-10 overall and 1-4 in the GSC.
Valdosta State survived an early attack from West Alabama to claim a one-point lead at the half. The second half was all VSU as the Lady Blazers scored 37 points in the second half to just 28 for West Alabama.
Ferguson poured in 21 points while Nelson scored 15 points, all on three-pointers. Nelson finished with five long balls while the entire UWA team only scored two. However, the Tigers went two of five from long range in the first half for 40 percent which is a big improvement from the worst three-point shooting team in the GSC at 21.2 percent. The Lady Blazers tightened up in the second half and did not allow a three from UWA to drop the Tigers’ percentage to just 28.6. Meanwhile, VSU finished shooting 50 percent from long range and an impressive 49.1 percent overall.
The Valdosta State defense played well in the game, forcing 11 UWA turnovers. Also, West Alabama’s Nikkia Jordan scored 22 points, but no other Tiger found double-digits. That includes Brittany Weathers, third in the GSC in double-doubles, who only scored six points, four of which came late in the game.
Offensively for VSU, Maylisa Johnson put forth a great effort for VSU, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and just one turnover.
West Alabama took control of the game early in Pruitt Hall, going up 19-10 and eventually 26-16 with 5:40 left. Valdosta State, however, answered with a strong run to finish the half. Ferguson opened it with a lay-up followed by a three-pointer from Nelson, one of three she buried in the last four minutes of the half to outshoot West Alabama’s team from long range.
The Tigers hit a shot to make it 28-21, but the Lady Blazers put together a few more baskets. First Courtney Mitchell made a basket followed by a Ferguson lay-up. Then Nelson hit another three-pointer to tie the game. West Alabama’s Nikkia Jordan, the first half leading scorer with 13 points, made the next basket, but Nelson answered with a three-pointer with 42 seconds left in the half for a 31-30 VSU lead at the break.
Nelson earned the starting nod in the second half and promptly made her fourth consecutive three-pointer after Mitchell made a long jump shot for a 36-35 lead just under three minutes into the half.
Valdosta State used another 6-0 run at the 15-minute mark with two baskets from Johnson and a lay-up from Bena Hanyard for a 45-37 lead. After the Tigers made two of four free throws, Ferguson made two baskets for VSU’s largest lead of the night, 49-39.
The Lady Blazers were able to maintain that lead and even build it up to a 16-points lead with 2:06 left to play. The smothering VSU defense held West Alabama to just two field goals over an eight-minute stretch late in the game. It proved too much for the Tigers to overcome as Valdosta State went on to a 68-58 victory.
Valdosta State will look to start another win streak against West Georgia back at The Complex at 6 p.m. Saturday for this season’s Valdosta State Hall of Fame game.