VALDOSTA — Valdosta State women 56, Fort Valley State 51, OT
Brittney Nelson made five of her first seven three-point attempts on Tuesday night. Then, with the game on the line, she buried another one.
Nelson’s three-pointer with 26.6 seconds left in overtime gave Valdosta State a 54-51 lead, and Kourtnee Williams’ free throws with 5.8 seconds to go sealed the victory.
“We did some good things, especially in the overtime period, defensively. We made some defensive stops,” Lady Blazers head coach Kiley Hill said. “We had some kids step up and play some great minutes.”
A layup by Fort Valley’s Dominique Collier with 44 seconds left in overtime tied the score at 51-51. After a 30-second timeout, Valdosta State brought the ball up the floor, and passed it around, looking for a good shot. Finally the ball went to Nelson behind the arc, and the senior forward didn’t hesitate. She let another three-point shot fly, and the ball went right where she wanted it to go — into the middle of the basket. That gave the Lady Blazers a 54-51 lead.
Fort Valley’s Dambria Thomas tried to drive towards the basket, but a VSU player got a hand on the ball, knocked it off Thomas’ leg and the ball went out of bounds. The Lady Blazers were awarded the ball with 15 seconds left, and Williams put the game away with her two free throws.
Nelson had quite a day on Tuesday. She started the day back home in Michigan, where she had spent a couple of days for family reasons. She got on a plane Tuesday morning and spent much of the day traveling back to Valdosta. When her plane touched down in Valdosta, she headed straight to The Complex and arrived about 90 minutes before tip-off. Then she put on her uniform and went out and played one of the best games of her Lady Blazer career. She scored a game-high 24 points for VSU. She made 9 of the 12 shots she attempted, including 6 of 8 three-point attempts, and also grabbed eight rebounds.
“I thought Brittney Nelson played some great minutes tonight,” Hill said. “She did some big things throughout the course of the game.”
Tuesday’s game was a close game throughout. There were nine ties and nine lead changes.
Fort Valley led most of the first half, but its biggest lead was just five points. The Lady Wildcats held a 27-24 lead at halftime.
With 14:12 left in regulation and her team trailing 33-29, Nelson made a three-pointer. Williams’ jumper gave VSU its first lead of the second half, 34-33, and Courtney Sprague’s layup 25 seconds later made it 36-33.
After a Fort Valley State basket, Williams made a three-pointer. Ninety-six seconds later, Nelson made a layup. Then Brooke Satterfield made a free throw and Sprague closed out a 15-2 VSU run with a layup. That gave the Lady Blazers their biggest lead of the night, 44-35, with 6:58 left in regulation.
But Fort Valley worked its way back into the game, scoring 12 of the next 15 points, and Briana Shepherd’s jumper with 3:01 left tied the score at 47-47. VSU regained the lead with two free throws by Williams with 1:35 left, but Shepherd’s jumper with 49 seconds to go tied the score at 49-49.
Both teams had opportunities to win the game in regulation, including a three-point shot by Sprague that rimmed out, but neither team could convert, so the game went into overtime.
Both teams managed just two points in the first four minutes of overtime. But then Nelson delivered her clutch three-pointer, and the Lady Blazers walked off the court victorious.
Williams scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds for VSU, while playing all 45 minutes. Shepherd led Fort Valley with 13 points, while Collier added 12.