FLORENCE, Ala. – Valdosta State drops back to .500 at 10-10, and 4-3 in the Gulf South Conference, with a 64-54 loss to North Alabama Saturday afternoon.
Sczeny Hartry led the Lady Blazers in scoring with 16 points. She also gave four assists and just one turnover in 40 minutes of play. Supporting Hartry was Brittany Daniels, who finished with 12 points.
Both Brittany Ferguson and Bena Hanyard scored eight points. Hanyard added six rebounds and five steals.
It was Sanqueeta Meardith’s night though. The point guard from North Alabama dropped 25 points after scoring just four against VSU in the teams’ last meeting. Dana Jackson added 14 points while Niala Harris scored nine.
Valdosta State could not overcome Meardith’s scoring, 11 points at the charity stripe, and 20 turnovers on just eight UNA steals.
Daniels hit the first basket of the game after Valdosta State forced an errant shot. The Lady Blazers built a 6-3 lead in the first four minutes to force an early timeout from North Alabama.
Out of the timeout, the Lions went on a 7-0 run to gain a 10-6 lead until Hartry broke it with a layup in the lane from Shakeda Richie.
Valdosta State would only score eight more points before the break, while North Alabama scored 16, including two points at the buzzer by Meardith for the team’s biggest lead: 10 points. Meardith finished the half with nine points.
The Lady Blazers went the last four minutes of the half without a field goal and the last three without a point. In those three minutes, UNA poured in seven points.
For VSU, Daniels led the way in the opening frame with six points while both Hartry and Ferguson scored four points each. For North Alabama, behind Meardith was Jackson with five points and four others with three points each.
In the first half, Valdosta State coughed the ball up 11 times, and the Lions scored 12 points off those turnovers. Despite averaging over 19 turnovers per game, North Alabama only lost it six times in the opening frame.
To open the second half, Valdosta State showed great ball movement and finished with a three-pointer from Hartry.
The Lady Blazers fourced two turnovers at the beginning of the half to help the team go on an 8-2 run, but Meardith scored four points, along with two from Harris to maintain an eight-point lead. Jackson scored two more points after an Amanda Haven foul to regain a 10-point lead and force an early timeout from VSU.
Valdosta State went on an 8-0 run sparked by a few more turnovers. First, Daniels scored on a put back, then Hartry nailed a three-pointer. Later, Hanyard stole the ball and went coast to coast for a three-point play to pull within two, 34-32.
However, before the media timeout at the 9:45 mark, UNA had worked the lead back up to seven, 39-32. Just over a minute and a half later, Meardith dropped a three-pointer to regain the 10-point lead for UNA. Then Meardith completed an old-fashioned three-point play for a 12-point lead.
Ferguson finally broke the six-minute scoring drought with a put back. Then Haven and Hartry scored followed by another Ferguson basket off a Hanyard steal. But North Alabama kept answering.
Hanyard continued to provide a spark, drawing a foul with 3:09 left. On a missed free throw, she got the rebound, scored the basket and drew another foul. After that, Hanyard stole the ball at half court and found Hartry to start the break. Hartry was fouled and went one for two at the line to pull VSU within seven, 56-49, with 2:33 left.
Through a combination of the press and drawing fouls, Valdosta State actually pulled within four points, 58-54, late on two free throws from Richie with 1:10 left. It would not prove to be enough, however, as UNA hit the late free throws it needed to stay undefeated in the GSC.
Valdosta State will return to action at Alabama-Huntsville at 6:30 p.m. Monday.