Big second half lifts Valdosta St.
Lady Blazers go on 20-4 run to run past Fort Valley State
WINTER PARK, Fla. –- Valdosta State's Sczeny Hartry sparked a 20-4 Lady Blazer run to open the second half of play as VSU defeated Fort Valley State 59-47 in the first round of play of the Division II South Region Tournament at Warden Arena on the campus of Rollins College on Friday afternoon.
With the victory, VSU improved to 21-7 on the year and advances to meet the winner of Friday's opening-round game between Florida Southern and Florida Tech at 5 p.m. Saturday. Meanwhile Fort Valley State ends its season at 23-7.
Trailing 22-14 at the half, VSU saw the Wildcats score the first bucket of the second half before opening its run. Hartry opened the run with a three from the top of the key before coming up with a steal and feeding Maylisa Johnson for a fast break lay-up. Courtney Williams added a jumper in the lane before Brittany Ferguson added a three-point play to even the contest at 24-24 with 14:54 to play.
Hartry put Valdosta State in front with her second three-pointer of the run and Ferguson added a bucket in the lane before FVSU ended the 15-0 run by the Lady Blazers with a jumper by Jayme Gilbert. Williams answered with a basket of her own before Hartry scored on a three-point play to close out the run and give Valdosta State a 34-26 lead with 11:40 remaining in the game.
Fort Valley State fought back to close to within 36-35 four minutes later, only to have VSU respond with a 9-1 run to seal the victory.
Neither team played well offensively through the first 20 minutes of play. Fort Valley State led throughout the first half as it used a 6-0 run to break an early 2-2 tie.
Behind the play of Ferguson and Brittany Nelson, Valdosta State fought back. With VSU trailing 12-4, Ferguson connected on four unanswered free throws on consecutive trips down the floor before feeding Nelson, who came off the bench to grab eight first half rebounds, for a lay-up to pull Valdosta State to within four points. On the Lady Blazers' next possession, Ferguson scored on a fast break lay-up to cut the VSU deficit to 14-12 with 8:29 to play in the first half.
The two teams went cold from there as VSU managed just a Scenzy Hartry jumper the rest of the half while the Wildcats missed seven of their final eight shots, but scored on six free throws to grab a 22-14 halftime lead.
Overall, Valdosta State shot just 17.9 percent from the floor in the first half as it connected on only 5-of-28 shots. FVSU wasn't much better as the Wildcats made only 7-of-29 to shoot 24.1 percent in the frame.
Hartry scored a team-best 20 points while Ferguson, who missed 10 of her first 11 field-goal attempts, scored on four of her final six to tally 15. Meanwhile, Nelson finished with a double-double as she tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds.
VSU connected on 13-of-19 second half shots to shoot 38.3 percent from the floor. The Lady Blazers also owned a 43-34 advantage in rebounding and dished out 12 assists, including six by Johnson.
Yasheeka Jones scored a game-high 21 points for Fort Valley State, but was the only FVSU player to score in double figures. The Wildcats shot just 26.8 percent from the floor in the game as they connected on only 15-of-56 field goal attempts.