Valdosta Daily Times

January 20, 2013

Johnson, Williams lead Lady Blazers to win

The Valdosta Daily Times

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Ashley Johnson scored 20 points, and led the Valdosta State women’s basketball team to a 62-59 win over West Florida on Saturday.

The Lady Blazers improved to 10-5 and 3-4 in Gulf South Conference play, while UWF stayed winless in the GSC and dropped to 3-12 on the season.

Johnson poured in 12 points in the first half, and was a perfect 6 for 6 from the free throw line in the game.

Valdosta State benefited from a strong second half from Kourtnee Williams as well. West Florida held Williams to just two first half points, but she made three field goals and five of her six free throws in the second half to finish with 13 points. Seven of her points came in the last five minutes of the game. The sophomore guard added seven rebounds, six steals and four assists, including a steal in one of West Florida’s final possessions.

Brooke Satterfield and Jasmine Mapp added eight points each, while Brittney Nelson brought down seven rebounds. Courtney Sprague finished with six points, five rebounds and four assists.

Valdosta State started quickly, with a three-pointer from Sprague just a minute into the game. But after the Lady Blazers built a 9-5 lead, West Florida went on a 7-0 run for a 12-9 lead before the media timeout finally slowed UWF’s momentum.

From there, Johnson’s scoring kept the Lady Blazers in the game. She started with two free throws, then made a mid-range jumper followed by a drive to the hoop for six consecutive VSU points. However, West Florida continued to score as well, and built a 19-15 lead with 11 minutes left to play in the opening half.

Both teams traded baskets after that, but the Lady Blazers were able to tie it up after a Williams steal. She pushed the ball ahead and found Nelson in the corner for a three-pointer to tie it, 27-27, with just a minute to play in the half.

After a defensive stop, the Lady Blazers found Williams for a go ahead basket, her only one of the half, to put VSU up 29-27 at halftime.

Johnson, Sprague and Nelson combined for 25 first half points for VSU.

Lady Blazers head coach Kiley Hill chose to start Mapp in the second half, and the freshman provided a spark out of the break. She scored on two layups after Williams scored the first basket of the half.

The two teams traded baskets for much of the second half. The largest lead for either team in the first 13 minutes of the second half was only five points. Johnson, Mapp and Williams were the only Lady Blazers to score during that time period.

With Valdosta State leading 45-44 with less than seven minutes to play, Mapp stole the ball at the top of the key and drew a foul on the other end. The former Brooks County standout made both free throws to give her team a three-point lead.

West Florida answered with consecutive three-pointers from Hanna Vette and Toynetta Johnson to gain a three-point advantage of its own, 50-47. Satterfield tied the score with a three-pointer, her first points of the game. Then Williams converted a three-point play to give VSU a 53-50 lead.

Raquel Miller was able to pull the Argos within one with two free throws, but Satterfield buried another dagger from the top of the key to put VSU up 56-52 with 4:05 left.

With less than a minute to play, the Lady Blazers held a 58-56 lead. Toynetta Johnson missed a three-pointer, but UWF got the rebound. But then Williams stole the ball with 16 seconds left. Williams, Nelson and Satterfield were able to pass the ball around and take precious seconds off the clock, until the Argos finally fouled Williams with 9.5 seconds left. She made both free throws, and gave VSU a 60-56 lead.

West Florida’s Johnson made a three-pointer to pull her team within one with just over two seconds left. But Satterfield made two free throws to clinch the game and give VSU its first victory in three games.

Valdosta State returns home to host Christian Brothers at 6 p.m. Thursday in The Complex and Delta State at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in a nationally-televised game.