BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Valdosta State shot 54.2 percent from the floor, but was unable to overcome 18 first half turnovers as the Lady Blazers fell 90-79 to Alabama-Huntsville in the quarterfinals of the Gulf South Conference Tournament at the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University Friday.
With the win, Alabama-Huntsville improved to 13-16 while Valdosta State fell to 16-11.
The Lady Blazer turnover problems commenced with the beginning of the game as Valdosta State turned the ball over on four of its first six possessions while missing shots on the other two. The Chargers took advantage of the VSU miscues to race out to a 13-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest.
Jasmine Mapp eventually ended the Lady Blazer drought as she scored five straight points on a three-pointer and a fast break lay-up, but the turnovers continued for VSU as it committed three more over the next three minutes of play while scoring on just an Ashley Johnson free throw as Valdosta State fell behind 20-6 at the 13:35 mark of the first half.
Baskets in the paint by Brittney Nelson and Courtney Sprague kept Valdosta State close as the half wore on, but the Chargers, who also shot 50.0 percent from the floor in the first half, kept the pressure up and eventually built a 20-point advantage on a pair of Bailee Robinson free throws with 7:07 remaining.
The Alabama-Huntsville lead grew to as much as 47-19 before settling at 54-29 at the halftime intermission. The Chargers garnered 23 of their 54 first half points off of VSU's turnovers and recorded 13 steals in the frame.
Valdosta State scored 13 of the first 17 points of the second half to get its deficit to within 16 points with 14:49 remaining in the game, but managed to get no closer over the next nine minutes as UAH time and again turned the Lady Blazers away.
A Nelson fast break lay-up with 5:37 to go eventually broke the 16-point barrier for VSU and the Lady Blazers responded with a 13-7 run over the next four minutes of play to pull within single digits with 89 seconds to play, but saw UAH hit 12-of-14 free throws the remainder of the game to seal the victory.
Kourtnee Williams led Valdosta State with 18 points while Mapp had 17, Sprague 15 and Nelson 11. Valdosta State shot 26-of-48 from the field for 54.2 percent in the game, including 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) in the second half of play, during which it out-scored UAH 50-36. However, VSU ended the game with 24 turnovers and was outrebounded 37-22, including a 17-6 Charger advantage in offensive rebounds.
UAH managed just five second half field goals, but connected on 26-of-30 free throws during the final 20 minutes of play. For the game, Alabama-Huntsville shot 42.6 percent from the floor as it made 23-of-54 field goal attempts and made 38-of-43 free throws as four VSU players – Williams, Mapp, Johnson and Kamyia Smith - fouled out in the game while Nelson finished the contest with four fouls.
Jasmine Hammon, the 2012-13 GSC Player of the Year, led Alabama-Huntsville with 26 points, nine rebounds and six steals while Jordan Smith poured in 23. Robinson contributed 13 points and Natalie Kelley 12 for the Chargers.
With the loss, Valdosta State will await Sunday evening's NCAA Regional Selection to learn if its season will continue. The selections for the 2013 NCAA Regional Tournaments will be announced at 9:00 p.m.