LIVINGSTON, Ala. – Valdosta State secured the team’s ninth consecutive Gulf South Conference Tournament berth with a 67-60 victory over West Alabama Saturday. Valdosta State’s regular season ends at 14-12 and 7-5 in GSC play.
Valdosta State’s big three stepped up to lead VSU in the final game of the regular season. Brittany Daniels led all scorers with 21 points in just 24 minutes. She was seven of nine from the field and knocked down seven of eight free throws to keep the Tiger defense honest.
Brittany Ferguson filled in with 18 points, 10 of which came from the charity stripe as well. Point guard Sczeny Hartry put together another solid game while playing all 40 minutes, finishing with 12 points.
Falling into what has become a regular role for her, Bena Hanyard also managed to be a spark and change the game for VSU as she notched four steals and six points to help the Lady Blazers on the defensive end. Ferguson led the defensive effort with five steals on the day.
Valdosta State tallied 12 steals to force 19 UWA turnovers, seven by point guard Lashandra McCoy. McCoy was still able to score 17 points while team leader Mystee Dale finished with 18. The duo, however, would not be enough to overcome an inspired Valdosta State team that shot 48.8 percent from the field and 92 percent from the free throw line.
In a tight first half, Valdosta State’s only lead was 4-3 three minutes into the game. That said, the Lady Blazers applied pressure to the Tigers the entire opening half. Hartry used two free throws to pull within one point with 30 seconds left in the opening frame, but Dale stole the ball and finished for two points at the buzzer to end the half with a three-point UWA lead, 37-34.
Valdosta State would put together a 33-point second half for VSU’s seventh GSC win of the season. Ferguson, Daniels and Shakeda Richie made three consecutive jumpers to start the half and claim a 40-37 lead. The Lady Blazers never trailed again.
Amanda Haven hit a jump shot followed by three Daniels free throws for a 45-39 VSU lead before West Alabama could score again.
The early VSU offense in the second half was a product of stifling defense. The Lady Blazers only allowed three points, one field goal, in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
With three minutes left to play, the Tigers had pulled within four, 58-54, but Hartry buried a three-pointer. After that, Ferguson stole the ball from McCoy and Daniels scored on a layup for the 63-54 lead with just two minutes left.
Hanyard and Ferguson hit free throws down the stretch to ice the road win.
With the win and the rest of the conference’s action Saturday, the Lady Blazers will be the second seed in the GSC East.