Valdosta Daily Times

February 24, 2013

Nelson, Williams come up big for Lady Blazers

VSU women beat West Florida, 68-65

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — In the final home game of the season for the Valdosta State women’s basketball team, playing in the final home game of her career, Brittney Nelson teamed up with sophomore teammate Kourtnee Williams to carry the Lady Blazers to a victory over West Florida.

After blowing a 16-point first-half lead, and finding themselves in a five-point second-half deficit, Nelson and Williams took over and scored every Lady Blazer point in the final 14 minutes of regulation, earning them a 68-65 win over the Lady Argonauts.

“Kourtnee Williams is a monster,” Nelson said. “She comes and plays every game, takes matters into her own hands, scores when we need it the most and knocks down her free throws….I just think we feed off each other. I went up to her after the eighth game (of the season) and told her we needed to take leadership on the offensive end.”

Nelson and Williams combined for the final 26 points for Valdosta State, led by Williams’ 15 points during that span. The duo also came up big with the game-winning points inside the final minute.

“We had great, great shots there in the second half,” Valdosta State head coach Kiley Hill said. “We just couldn’t make it happen and then finally we were able to get them to go down and get some defensive stops.”

Teaming up to carry the Lady Blazers, Nelson and Williams got it done every way possible. From field goals to free throws to clutch three-pointers, Nelson and Williams was the catalyst that made Valdosta State run on Saturday.

Trailing 64-63 with 41 seconds remaining, Nelson made her biggest contribution of the afternoon, a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Lady Blazers a 66-64 lead.

“Hitting that three felt pretty good,” Nelson said. “I’m just glad it didn’t air ball.”

Then after West Florida closed within one, Williams made a pair of free throws to push the Lady Blazers ahead 68-65. Even when West Florida threw up its 3-pointer at the buzzer, which clanked off the front of the rim, it was Williams and Nelson defending, getting a hand in the way to secure the victory.

“It just shows how well we feed off of each other,” Williams said. “I always know she is going to be on the backside waiting for that three.”

Nelson and Williams each finished with 18 points, as Valdosta State improved to 15-9 overall and 8-8 in league play. More importantly, the Lady Blazers, who entered the weekend ranked seventh in the South Region standings, remained in the hunt for a postseason berth past next month’s Gulf south Conference tournament.

“I told them at halftime, ‘Hey we have the seventh ranking in the region and this team is below us,’” Nelson said. “So winning this game was huge.”

The Lady Blazers started with an 8-0 run and followed it up with another 8-0 run later in the first half to build a 22-8 lead. They added to their lead, going ahead 26-10 lead, their largest lead of the game.

Then West Florida made its commanding run.

Unable to produce a basket, combined with turnovers on multiple possessions, the Lady Blazers saw their lead evaporate and turn into a halftime deficit.

West Florida used a commanding 22-5 run to end the first half — which included a 12-0 run to start the comeback. During the run, the Lady Blazers failed to score for over three minutes until Kamyia Smith three-point play. Following the basket, the Lady Blazers finished the half without a field goal for the final 3:20, allowing West Florida to take the lead.

“It was completely us,” Hill said. “All their shots came off second-chance opportunities that we gave them because we weren’t blocking out and we turned the ball over. The third piece was transition. We were throwing the ball at people’s ankles and we were putting the ball in bad situations.”

Like Hill alluded to, the majority of West Florida’s success came from second-chance points. In the game, the Lady Argos outscored the Lady Blazers 23-2 in that department.

The Lady Argonauts held onto their lead throughout the half, taking a 32-31 advantage into the locker room.

In the second half, West Florida’s lead got to as many as five, coming at the beginning Nelson’s and Williams’ run.

Notes: VSU’s Brooke Satterfield left the game with a knee injury late in the second half. Hill said she will be evaluated further…The Lady Blazers were outrebounded 49-32 in the game....With a game in Memphis, Tenn. Thursday night, the Lady Blazers will fly rather than making a bus trip. It will be the first flight trip for the team this season.