The Valdosta Daily Times
Kourtnee Williams had a chance to carry the Lady Blazers to victory with a pair of free throws in the waning minutes of Wednesday night’s game against St. Leo.
Unfortunately for Williams, she missed the pair of free throw attempts, sending the Lady Blazers to their third straight overtime game, and second straight double overtime affair.
Luckily for Williams, she redeemed herself late in the second overtime, scoring the final six points to lift the Lady Blazers to the 69-64 win.
“I felt like I should have made those two free throws to put us up.” Williams said. “So I had to redeem myself. I think the way I played in high school, I had more of a leader role at a young age. So I feel like I can handle the pressure in the final minutes of the game.”
The Lady Blazers improved to 7-2 on the season, heading into a mandatory 10-day break for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
“It is a good win to go off to Christmas break on,” head coach Kiley Hill said.
Williams finished with 16 points, while senior Brittney Nelson finished with a game-high 22 points. Brooke Satterfield and Courtney Sprauge each finished with 10 points.
“(Kourtnee) is just a steady presence for us,” Hill said. “She is asked to do so many things defensively and now I am asking her to do so many things offensively, take the ball off the bounce, space the floor.”
Valdosta State struggled from the floor Wednesday, shooting 38 percent (25-65), and just 29 percent (8-27) from 3-point range on the night.
“We just couldn’t buy a basket,” Hill said. “But eventually, our effort carried us.”
Leading by 14 points early in the second half, the Lady Blazers had several chances to put the game away, but failed to due to do so because of some ice-cold shooting; they failed to convert a field goal — or even a free throw — for over 7 1/2 minutes in the half.
The lack of production on the offensive end allowed St. Leo to close within two points, 41-39. A basket by Sprauge ended the Lady Blazers’ drought, even if just for a minute.
“We got out in the second half, hit those three’s by Brooke, extended our lead, and then we became passive,” Hill said. “When we are playing kids 46 minutes, they are going to miss shots. So we have to put the ball inside off the bounce and we didn’t do that late and it almost cost us.”
Following Sprague’s basket, the Lady Blazers went another three-plus minutes without a basket, which ended when Nelson converted a field goal with 4:24 remaining in the game.
Then after St. Leo closed within two points, the teams exchanged a pair of three-pointers before St. Leo made the back-end of a pair of free throws to make the score 48-47.
With St. Leo pressing, VSU pushed the ball up the court to Williams, who drove the lane to draw a foul. She made both free throws to give the Lady Blazers a 50-47 lead.
“I was pleased with our kids’ efforts,” Hill said.
St. Leo tied the game at 50-50 with a 3-pointer from the corner with 11.9 seconds left. Then, Williams drove the floor and drew another foul in the paint, but missed both free throws. St. Leo missed a game-winning jump shot at the buzzer, forcing the game into overtime.
In the first overtime session, the Lady Blazers never led and trailed for almost all of the five minutes. Trailing 55-54 with less than a minute remaining, Williams went back to the line and made the front-end of a pair of free throws to force the game into double overtime.
In the double overtime session, the Lady Blazers outscored St. Leo 13-9, behind Williams’ six points down the stretch.
Valdosta State raced out to a 10-4 lead less than five minutes into the ball game, using a pair of baskets from Nelson. The Lay Blazers’ lead got as large as 10 points in the first half, coming on two separate occasions.
The first came when Nelson drained a 3-pointer to make the score 25-15. Later in the half, Satterfield made a jumper to push the score to 29-19.
St. Leo closed within eight points, 30-22, at the half.
Valdosta State returns to action Dec. 29 at Albany State. The Lady Blazers will host Alabama-Huntsville Jan. 3 in Valdosta.