SOUTHAVEN, Miss. -- No. 3 Delta State came back from a 12-point deficit to defeat West Alabama 69-65 in the quarterfinals of the Gulf South Conference Tournament Thursday at the Desoto Civic Center.

After being down by 12 points, and later down by 10 twice, the Lady Statesmen (25-2) continued to fight for rebounds and position in the paint, which ultimately gave them the victory.

“We beat a very good basketball team,” said Lady Statesmen coach Sandra Rushing. “And I am thankful for the win.”

The Lady Statesmen had a difficult first half. With 11:16 left to play, Delta State trailed by 12, their largest deficit of the game. Using a late run by Auburee Ray, DSU was able to cut it five, ending the first half down 35-30.

Denesha Henderson, Ray, Jamie Lack and Tamara Reed continued their steady play off the bench. The foursome combined for 16 points while West Alabama (18-9) got just seven points from its bench. 

In the second half, the Lady Statesmen made some major adjustments down low as the Lady Tigers had out-rebounded them 18-13 and outscored them in the paint 26-14 in the first period.

With the halftime corrections, the green-and-white were able to take a 55-54 lead at the 7:04 mark, their first lead since the first basket of the game.

Veronica Walker made a huge impact on the low post for the Lady Statesmen. With her 21 points, Delta State finished the night with 32 points in the paint. The junior forward also had seven rebounds.

Shameka Russell ended the night with 15 points, nine rebounds and one assist.

The Lady Statesmen closed the contest shooting 39.6 percent from the field (21 of 53), 20 percent from the 3-point line (1 of 5) and 72.2 percent from the free-throw line (26 of 36). Also, DSU finished the night out-rebounding UWA 35-32.

UWA shot 44.3 percent on the evening, hitting on 27 of 61 shots, including 4 of 9 from 3-point range.

Mysti Dale led the Lady Tigers with 20 points and five assists. Latashia Greer added 16 points and 12 boards.

The Lady Statesmen return to the court Saturday, March 5 for the GSC semifinals against Harding University (18-9). It will mark the third meeting of the year between the two West Division foes as DSU fell 69-66 in Searcy, Ark., and defeated HU 70-53 in Cleveland, Miss.