Lady Blazers upset No. 8 Georgia Southwestern, 66-52

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Behind 43 combined points from sophomore Kate Tanner and junior Lili Long, the Valdosta State Lady Blazers delivered a 66-52 win over No. 8 Georgia Southwestern Tuesday night at The Complex. Tanner finished the tournament with 22 points and nine rebounds, earning him the Guardian Bank Lady Blazer player of the game award, while Long finished with 21 points and five rebounds.

The Australian duo finished a combined 11 of 16 from field, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and 18 of 22 from the line in the game with one big shot after another, especially as GSW made runs in both halves. Sophomore Taylor Searcey finished the tournament with six points and a team-high ten rebounds, while junior Emma Martin added nine points.

VSU (2-2) shot 40.9 percent from the field on 18 of 44 while it was 6 of 19 from deep and a season-high 24 of 36 from the line, including 14 of 17 from the line in the second half thereafter Opening game 10 of 19 from the streak for the first half. The Lady Blazers extended the winning streak to four games against GSW and seven of the last nine.

The Lady Hurricanes (3-1) finished 16-of-45 from the field for 35.6 percent while they were 4-of-11 from beyond the arc and 16-of-22 from the line. VSU led 39-24 on the rebound, including 14-7 on offense. Ava Jones had a team-high 13 points for the Lady’ Canes on 4-of-9 from the field, 3-of-4 from deep, and 2-of-4 from the line.

Never behind in the game, VSU opened the contest with a three-pointer from senior Jirah Ards, building a seven-point cushion in the first quarter and settling for a 16-12 lead by a frame. Jones’ three-pointer with 7:22 in the half pulled the Lady ‘Canes to 18-17, but the “and one” on the other end from Tanner took the lead to four at 21-17. VSU extended the lead to 25-19 with 5:22 at halftime using a 7-2 run capped with two free throws from Tanner, a steal from Long and a bucket from junior Tamiya Francis.

Later, after a turnover at GSW, Martin buried a three at 1:50 at the half for a 30-20 lead and VSU added three more free throws in the last seven seconds of the half to take a 33-22 lead in the achieve break.

Tanner used another “and one” for a 38-26 lead early in the third and two more free throws from her increased the lead to 14 at 40-26, staying within 7:04. Martin had another big three for a 46-30 lead with 2:45 in the quarter, but the Lady ‘Canes weren’t about to go down without a fight as they reduced the deficit to 12 at 48-36 with two free throws and a knight after a steal by Jolicia Williams in the last minute of the quarter.

A little over two minutes into the fourth, Tanner hit her own offensive rebound in the paint off for the first points of the quarter and a 50-36 lead. Georgia Southwestern cut the deficit to 11 a few times, but two free throws and a bucket from Tanner increased the lead by 1:19 to 17 at 66-49.

VSU returns to Gulf South Conference play and takes its first road trip of the season with a Saturday matchup at Delta State at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by a 6:30 p.m. ET tip Monday at Mississippi College. VSU returns home to host West Georgia in the Red Clay Rivalry Series on December 1 at 6pm at The Complex.