ALBANY, Ga. – Valdosta State still has time to start the New Year right, but the Lady Blazers ended it with a tough loss to Albany State, 60-50, Saturday. The loss drops VSU to 7-3 on the season, but the Lady Blazers will look to bounce back in their Gulf South Conference home opener against Alabama-Huntsville on Thursday.
Kourtnee Williams led Valdosta State with 19 points. She added six rebounds and five steals while finishing 50 percent from the floor and four of seven from the free throw line. Brittney Nelson notched her sixth double-double of the season and third consecutive with 16 points and 18 rebounds. Unfortunately no other Lady Blazer scored more than six points. Kamyia Smith added five points with five assists and eight rebounds.
Valdosta State struggled shooting Saturday as the Lady Blazers only made 18 of 60 shots to finish shooting 30 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from long range.
Despite only shooting 25 percent from the field and missing all six shots from beyond the arc, Valdosta State only trailed by three points at the break after trailing by as much as nine points with 3:15 left in the first half.
Nelson kept the Lady Blazers in the game with a near double-double in the first half alone, scoring eight points with 11 rebounds before the break. Williams matched Nelson’s scoring with eight of her own, but only three other Lady Blazers scored two points each.
Williams added four first half steals helping VSU to 14 points off turnovers, a six-point advantage over Albany State in the category. Valdosta State also took advantage of free throws, making six of seven, in the first half.
The team’s defense, despite Albany State shooting 40 percent in the first half, kept VSU within striking distance at halftime. The Lady Blazers were able to force 13 turnovers on eight steals.
April Thomas and Sierra Foster were the only Golden Rams to score more than three points in the opening frame with seven and six respectively.
Valdosta State took control of the second half early. Nelson opened with a lay-up from Smith. After Albany State free throws, Courtney Sprague scored on another lay-up off a Brooke Satterfield assist, and then Satterfield claimed a VSU lead on a lay-up with another assist to Smith.
Smith found Williams for a three-pointer the next possession then Williams scored two more points to build a six-point VSU lead, 33-27, less than five minutes into the second half.
The Golden Rams responded in their home gym though, scoring the next 11 points to go up, 38-33, before a Williams jump shot could stop the ASU run.
Valdosta State was able to work its way back to tie it, 40-40, on a Williams free throw with just under seven minutes to play, but Albany State answered with a Kourtney Alexander three ball.
Williams tied it again with 5:08 left, but the Golden Rams went on a six-point run with four points coming at the charity stripe. Albany State continued to hit free throws down the stretch to seal the victory and improve to 2-5 on the season.
Valdosta State will look to bounce back in the team’s Gulf South Conference home opener against Alabama-Huntsville at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Complex.