VALDOSTA — Lady Blazers drop second straight at home
After shooting itself in the foot time and time again, the Valdosta State women’s basketball team had the shot it wanted with 25 seconds left Saturday at The Complex.
Trailing visiting Christian Brothers by just three despite a rough first half and countless missed opportunities, the Blazers got an open look for April Thomas from the top of the arc.
Thomas’ shot, though, missed off the back of the iron and Christian Brothers held on for a 67-60 win in Gulf South Conference play.
“Every time we had an opportunity, we just shot ourselves in the foot,” VSU coach Kiley Hill said. “Poor decisions on passes, dribble driving it when we tried to go through six people or whatever instead of passing it on to the next person.
“So many little things that cost us and yet we still had an opportunity to tie the basketball game and get the crowd back into it.”
The Blazers, who fell to 9-7 and 4-6 in conference with their fifth loss in six games, had the opportunity late because of a defensive switch at halftime. With the Bucs (10-6, 6-4) shooting 62.5 percent in the first half as they led by as many as 13 and had a 36-25 advantage at the break, Hill put the Blazers into a 2-3 zone to open the second half.
The switch slowed Christian Brothers, especially star guard Breanna Ridgell, and VSU clawed its way back into the game. Ridgell, who nearly matched her season average of 16.3 points per game in the first half with 15, didn’t get her first points after intermission until 11 minutes and 15 seconds had evaporated. That basket gave the Bucs a 48-44 lead. Ridgell finished with 25 points on 10 of 14 shooting.
“If you look at the shot chart from the first half, every one of their makes was from inside the paint,” Hill said about the defensive change. “We just weren’t doing a very good job of recognizing what was coming at us.
“You can either keep doing the same thing or adjust, and we adjusted.”
But after VSU closed within 48-47 with 7:21 to go on a Thomas 3-pointer, the Bucs adjusted as well. Christian Brothers responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a three-point possession with Erica Burgess, who added 17 points, making the first of two free throws with 5:20 left and Ridgell drilling a jumper 11 seconds later after an offensive board.
The Blazers didn’t go quietly as Kourtnee Williams, who led VSU with 17 points, scored four straight to pull the Blazers within 58-54. Down 63-55 with 1:10 to go, VSU rattled off five straight points to give Thomas the look at the tying shot.
“We did so many things, especially in the first half, that helped beat us,” Hill said.
In that first half, Christian Brothers which shot 54.3 perent overall, used runs of 9-0 and 10-2 to open a 25-14 lead with eight minutes left in the half. The lead ballooned to 36-23 on a 3-pointer from Ashley Schaefer with 90 seconds left before halftime.