Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

February 27, 2014

VSU looks to keep building momentum prior to tourney

VALDOSTA — With just one week left before the start of the Gulf South Conference tournament, the Valdosta State women’s basketball team couldn’t have picked a better time to snap its losing streak.

Now the Blazers are hoping that Saturday’s 48-43 win against Shorter in the home finale can turn into momentum heading into a road trip that includes today’s game at Delta State and Saturday’s regular season finale at Christian Brothers.

“We hope,” VSU coach Kiley Hill said about getting a confidence boost. “We’ve been trying to build a mantra of work smarter not harder. (Saturday) we worked a little smarter.”

The Blazers, 11-13 overall and 6-12 in the conference, are currently sitting ninth in the league standings and in line to be the seventh seed in the eight-team tournament. But VSU sits just one-half game behind West Georgia. The Wolves wrap up their regular season at home tonight against league-leading Lee.

But it won’t be easy for VSU to make up ground on West Georgia as the Blazers visit No. 17 Delta State, who are 20-4 overall and 15-3 in the GSC, one-half game behind Lee. The Statesmen are the league’s top defensive team, allowing an average of 53.6 points per game, while also leading the conference by shooting 43.7 percent.

Seneca Walton and Chelsey Rhodes are Delta State’s top threats, averaging 14.7 and 14.6 points per game. VSU counters with junior guard April Thomas, who scores 14.7 points per game. Kourtnee Williams and Amy Duke each average close to nine points, while Jordan Waugh is VSU’s top rebounder with a 5.3 average.

Delta State won the earlier meeting with the Blazers 65-61, a a game that was within two points in the final minute. That setback was the first in a stretch where Valdosta State lost eight of nine prior to Saturday’s win.

The VSU men (15-9 overall) are also battling for postseason positioning as they are currently sixth in the conference at 9-9. That puts the Blazers a game behind Christian Brothers and Alabama-Huntsville, who are tied for fourth, and a half-game in front of West Georgia.

VSU, which won two straight at home, will also face a tough task in Delta State, the regular-season GSC champions and ranked No. 22. The Statesmen are 22-4 and 15-3.

Delta is paced by Willie Readus, who averages 19.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, the Blazers’ balanced attack is led by Jalen Crawford’s 13.7 points per game. Blake Justice adds a 13.6 average, while Jeremy McKay scores 13 per game and David Murray averages 11.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.

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