Delta State women 65
Valdosta State 61
Delta State stars center Seneca Walton and guard Chelsey Rhodes combined for 44 points and 16 rebounds as the Statesmen knocked off the previously unbeaten at home Blazers.
The Blazers came out in front of the crowd at The Complex energized to be playing at home for the first time in more than two weeks and looking to make a statement against the No. 10 Statesmen.
Both teams appeared to be evenly matched in the early going as Delta State took an early lead, but could not separate from Valdosta State despite VSU's 3-point shooting woes in the first half.
The Blazers missed their first five 3-point attempts before April Thomas hit VSU's first 3-pointer of the game to take a 11-10 lead.
Thomas' 3-pointer would be the only make in the Blazers’ 10 first half attempts. Delta State's defense made life tough on VSU with the 13-6 rebounding advantage keeping the Blazers in it midway through the half.
With just five minutes remaining in the half VSU held an 18-17 lead, but the Statesmen quickly reminded fans why they are the No. 10 team in the nation. Delta State went on an 11-2 run spanning the final five minutes of the first half to take a 28-20 lead into the locker rooms.
Even though VSU had held Walton to just five points the talented center also had seven rebounds while her teammate Rhodes shouldered the scoring load in the first half with 11 points.
The Statesmen tried to extend their lead when both teams took the floor, but the Blazers made another push to close within three points five minutes into the half.
Unfortunately, while VSU continued to scratch and claw to score in transition and on second chance points, offense came easily for Delta State.
The Blazers had no answer for the Statesmen duo of Rhodes and Walton in the second half. The two combined for 28 of Delta State's 37 second half points as the Statesmen held a 57-49 advantage with under four minutes remaining.
That's when Thomas took over.
Thomas hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cut Delta State's lead to four and then one of two free throws a minute later to make it a three-point game. Thomas answered a Statesmen basket with two more free throws as the clock ran under a minute.
With Valdosta State trailing just three points, 58-61, Thomas grabbed a Delta State rebound and raced down court looking to tie the game. Thomas dumped the ball off to Reshauda Owens who is fouled on the shot.
But with 13 seconds left in the game Owens missed both free throws and Delta State was able to ice the game. Thomas scored VSU's final 12 points and had 20 on the night, but it wasn't enough to dethrone the No. 1 team in the GSC as the Statesmen won behind Rhodes' 25 points.
The loss drops the Blazers to 9-6 overall and 4-5 in GSC play.
Valdosta State continues the homestand Saturday starting at 6 p.m. for the annual Pink Out game against Christian Brothers.
The night will feature raffles and more, with all proceeds going to the Partnership Cancer Fund.