Valdosta Daily Times

December 2, 2012

Late surge not enough for Lady Blazers

The Valdosta Daily Times

FLORENCE, Ala. — Valdosta State’s women’s basketball team fell in its second conference game Saturday to drop to 4-2 and 0-2 in the Gulf South Conference. North Alabama beat the Lady Blazers, 62-54, to improve to 7-2 on the season and 2-0 in the GSC.

Valdosta State battled foul trouble throughout the game. The Lady Blazers were called for 23 personal fouls to just seven for the Lions.

North Alabama dominated the paint, which helped the Lions draw many of those fouls. The Lions scored 39 points in the paint and 11 second chance points while outrebounding VSU 41-29. The Lady Blazer defense was able to force 19 turnovers and score 23 points off those turnovers, but it would not be enough.

North Alabama shot 44.9 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc, while holding VSU to 38.6 percent overall and 29.6 from long range.

The early play from Brooke Satterfield and late play from guards Kamyia Smith and Kourtnee Williams kept Valdosta State in it. Satterfield finished with 14 points. Williams also scored 14 points, and added seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.

For North Alabama, Nichelle Fillmore led in scoring with 16 points, while Mekena Randle finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds and a team-high three assists.

Valdosta State stayed with North Alabama in the early going, largely due to the contribution of Satterfield. After scoring just one point against UNA, Satterfield scored eight of VSU’s first 10 points of the game. Satterfield buried two three-pointers in the stretch.

Brittney Nelson matched Satterfield with two threes of her own at the 10:46 and 4:44 mark. Just after Nelson’s first three ball, Dericka Griffis scored.

The first half was back and forth, as fans saw six lead changes and three ties. Valdosta State held the lead the longest, at close to eight minutes. The first basket for Griffis came at the 9:33 mark to give VSU a 19-17 lead. The Lady Blazers held the lead until 1:18 left in the half, when North Alabama’s Delisa Madry buried UNA’s second three of the game to tie it at 24.

With 12 seconds left in the first half, Randle scored a lay-up to give North Alabama a 26-24 lead at the break.

North Alabama finished the first half shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Valdosta State matched UNA’s three-point shooting percentage, but only shot 38.5 percent from the field.

The North Alabama post players, Randle and Fillmore, started the second half with four quick points to extend the UNA lead to six points, 30-24, less than two minutes into the frame, forcing an early timeout from VSU head coach Kiley Hill.

Griffis scored VSU’s first points of the second half with an aggressive move in the post. After that, Williams pulled Valdosta State within one point with her first three-pointer of the game.

Unfortunately for Valdosta State, the Lions went on a 9-2 run after that for a 39-32 lead. Nelson was able to break the run with her third long ball of the afternoon, though, with 12:22 left to play.

Two three-point plays from Fillmore helped North Alabama rebuild its lead, but then Smith came alive. She scored three consecutive baskets to pull VSU within five, 48-43.

After a UNA free throw, Nelson drew a foul on the other end to force Valdosta State’s first free throws of the game, compared to 12 Lion free throws to that point. Nelson made one of two to maintain the five-point deficit.

Valdosta State used a renewed vigor on defense to force a shot clock violation from North Alabama on the ensuing possession. Then Williams dropped a floater in the lane to pull within three, 49-46, with just over six minutes left to play.

Williams kept it up with another teardrop in the lane, this time drawing a foul. She converted the three-point opportunity to tie the game, 49-49.

North Alabama answered with a 7-0 run, but Satterfield broke it with a deep three-pointer from the top of the key to make it a four-point game with just under two minutes left to play.

Williams continued to do work in the lane with another short jumper, benefiting from a forgiving roll to pull VSU within two. After that, Smith was called for her fifth foul on an aggressive defensive play at the top of the key. That started free throws for North Alabama, and the Lions were able to score their final nine points from the charity stripe to seal the game.

Valdosta State will return home to face Fort Valley State at 6 p.m. Tuesday in The Complex.