VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State came from nine points behind to over Tampa, 44-43, in the closing minutes of Saturday’s game to move to 2-1 on the season.
Brittany Ferguson led the Lady Blazers in scoring and rebounding with 14 and eight. Sczeny Hartry continues to score with 13 points on the night. Dominique Smith turned in a solid night with seven points and seven rebounds while Alisha Crawford made three her magic number: three rebounds, three points and three assists.
Valdosta State tied Tampa in points in the paint, off turnovers and off the bench. The Lady Blazers even trailed in rebounding. The difference for Valdosta State Saturday night was shooting percentage. After going five for 26 in the first half, the Lady Blazers rebounded to shoot 47.8 percent in the second half to finish the day at 32.7 percent. The Lady Blazer defense held Tampa to just 26.7 percent shooting on the day.
The Lady Blazers never led by more than three all night, and that was 30 seconds into the game. Valdosta State took a five-point deficit into the break, then Tampa’s Gianna Messina hit a three-pointer to open the half with an eight-point Spartan lead. After Hartry tied it at 24, Tampa worked its way up to a nine-point lead with 8:30 left to play.
Valdosta State started to chip away and went on a 10-point run. Ferguson started the run with a layup, followed by Hartry. Ferguson knocked down another one to cut the Tampa lead to three. With 5:30 left, Tampa converged on Amanda Haven in the post and she found an open Crawford, who hit a hook shot in the paint to pull within one.
Ferguson followed with a jumper from the free throw line, and VSU had earned its first lead, 35-34, since three minutes into the game. For the remaining five minutes, each team jockeyed for the lead. With 1:34 left, Tampa tied it at 38 on free throws.
Shakeda Richie regained the lead with a jump shot off a Ferguson pass. After another tie, Ferguson made it to the cup for a layup and a 42-40 lead with 33 seconds to play. It was free throws the rest of the way, and Hartry made both her clutch shots while Lindsey Watson missed one of two with eight seconds left.
The Lady Blazers will travel to Columbus State for their next game at 6 p.m. Tuesday.