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February 1, 2013

Lady Blazers struggle, fall to Union

VALDOSTA — The struggles continue. And it was sloppy, too.

For the fifth time in its last six games, the Valdosta State women’s basketball team lost a conference game. This time, the Lady Blazers fell to Union 54-50 Thursday night at The Complex.

Valdosta State is now 10-8 overall and a dismal 3-7 in Gulf South Conference play. Union, in its first year competing against Division II competition, improved to 13-5 overall and a league-leading 8-2 in GSC action.

Regardless, Valdosta State head coach Kiley Hill remains optimistic on his team’s potential.

“We have to make some minor changes and we have to grow up a little,” Hill said. “We still have a bunch of young puppies. We have to stop making so many poor decisions and success will find us. … There is a phrase I’ve used for years, and I still use it: Winning is not an accident.”

The Lady Blazers were sloppy all night and went through massive stretches without making a field goal. The VSU women finished the night with just 21 field goals and 17 turnovers, which led to 12 Union points.

Union wasn’t much better. Playing without three of their best post players, the Lady Bulldogs connected on just 18 of their 54 field goal attempts and committed 13 turnovers.

“It goes back to consistency,” Hill said. “We consistently turn the ball over at crucial situations. We missed too many two-footers. …. Defensively, we are giving up too many offensive rebounds in major possessions late. We forget what we are doing at times.”

For much of the night, the Lady Blazers actually had more turnovers than field goals, allowing Union to lead the majority of the way.

In the first half, the Lady Blazers committed 11 turnovers, which led to eight Union points, while managing just nine field goals on 29 attempts.

“I think the biggest thing is, some of our kids still don’t know where to go and what to do,” Hill said. “We still have certain kids that don’t know what to do or where they are supposed to be, no matter if I draw it up during a timeout.”

The teams swapped the lead seven times in the first half, with Union building a lead as large as six points, coming with 5:02 remaining. Valdosta State’s largest lead was just two in the half, coming at the 15-minute mark. It was the Lady Blazers’ only lead of the first half.

Valdosta State got the lead twice in the second half, both coming in a three minute stretch early in play.

Union grabbed the lead back a few possessions later and outscored the Lady Blazers 8-2 to extend its lead to six points, 39-33.

VSU responded with a quick 5-0 run to close back within one with seven minutes remaining.

That was the closest the Lady Blazers would get. In fact, Union built onto its lead, which got as large as seven points with 1:49 left.

Trailing by seven inside the final minute, the Lady Blazers closed within five points until Courtney Sprague banked a meaningless 3-pointer off the glass as time expired.

Amy Philamlee led Union with 16 points. Astrid Huttemann and Christina Coney added 10 points each.

Brittney Nelson and Kourtnee Williams scored 13 points apiece for Valdosta State. Courtney Sprague added 10 points.

Valdosta State will host North Alabama at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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