The Valdosta Daily Times
The VSU Lady Blazers (2-0) take the floor Saturday in a battle of undefeated teams as they host the 2-0 Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricanes.
The Lady Blazers defeated Webber International 75-44 on November 16. In that game, the Lady Blazers held Webber International to 25 percent shooting and won the rebounding battle 47-36.
It was a tale of two halves as the Lady Blazers made just seven of 32 shots and led 23-21 at halftime only to come alive in the second half, shooting 17-24 from the floor and outscoring the Lady Warriors 52-23.
Senior guard-forward Maylisa Johnson had a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard April Thomas was held scoreless on 0-7 shooting in the first half but came on in the second half, scoring 13 points.
During Wednesday’s practice, head coach Kiley Hill spoke very highly of the level of size and athleticism his team will face against the Lady Hurricanes on Saturday.
“From position to position, they’re more athletic than us across the board,” Hill said. “They can take you off the bounce. They’ve got the kid [Jasmine] McSwain who was an all-conference player in the Peach Belt this past year as a freshman. They can board well, they’re all 5’10”, 5’11” across the board, so we may have some matchup problems with that.”
The Lady Hurricanes, who last played on Nov. 16 as well, knocked off Northwood University (Fla.) 90-66.
Hill understands that while his team may be at an athletic disadvantage, the ability to play their own game will be vital.
“We’ve just got to figure out what our strengths will be and kind of play to those,” Hill said. “There are a couple of weaknesses we’ve seen with them and hopefully we can attack those — create some mismatch opportunities for them and reduce those for us. That’s our focus every time we play.”
The Lady Blazers host Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricanes on Saturday at the P.E. Complex at 2 p.m.
Following the conclusion of the women’s game, the Valdosta State men’s team will look to move to 4-0 as they host the 5-0 Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls.
Following Sunday’s win over Carver Bible, Blazers head coach Mike Helfer believes his team can be better than what they’ve shown.
“You can’t have any mental lapses,” Helfer said. “I feel like we went through a couple of games early on and had lapses where we wouldn’t play well and you can’t do that to beat a good team like Johnson C. Smith.”
JCSU enters Saturday’s matchup at 5-0 after defeating Virginia Union 65-59 on Wednesday night. Though the Golden Bulls are a non-conference opponent, Helfer stresses the importance of respecting JCSU and bringing the right disposition into Saturday’s game.
“We’ve got to expect a very good basketball team,” Helfer said. “They’re [5-0], they’ve got road wins already — they’re going to be good and we’ve got to expect that from the get-go. I think there are two very good programs playing each other [Saturday].”
During their three-game win streak, the Blazers have been dominant, outscoring their opponents by an average of 23.3 points per game.
Against JCSU, the emphasis for VSU will be tough defense and limiting turnovers.
The Golden Bulls shoot well from the field (49.8 percent) and excel at forcing turnovers, as opponents are turning it over 19.3 times per game.
“I think they’re very good off the dribble and they’ve got good post guys that finish around the rim,” Helfer explained. “JCSU does a good job with their press, and they put a lot of pressure on the ball so we have to take care of the ball and make easy passes.”
Helfer acknowledges JCSU as a team that does a lot of things well and believes his team will need to play well in multiple areas to win.
“They don’t have many weaknesses,” Helfer said. “They’re a very solid team so I’m not sure there’s one particular area (to exploit). To beat a good team, you have to play well at every position in almost every category and if you don’t, it’s probably going to come back and bite you.”
Saturday’s game against JCSU will be the last home game for the Blazers before they hit the road for the first time this season.
“Whether you play at home or on the road, I don’t think that really matters,” Helfer said. “It’s probably going to be close — both teams are going to play extremely hard. It’s an early season matchup and it should be fun to watch.”
Tip-off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the VSU P.E. Complex.