Valdosta Daily Times

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January 3, 2014

Lady Blazers face West Alabama in first game of 2014

VALDOSTA — The new year begins a grueling two month string of matchups against Gulf South Conference opponents for the Lady Blazers that includes nine games in January, eight in February and one final game in March before the GSC Tournament.

The stretch begins this Saturday, against the Tigers of West Alabama.

The Lady Blazers enter Saturday's contest on the heels of a narrow 58-56 victory over the Lynn Fighting Knights just before the break on Dec. 22 at The Complex.

In the contest, Blazer guard April Thomas put up a team high 21 points, 19 of which came in the first half, while Amy Duke continued her steady output offensively with a 13 point contribution.

In contrast, the Tigers bring a four game losing streak into the weekend matchup, with the team's three most recent defeats coming at the hands of GSC opponents.

The Tigers have experienced offensive woes throughout the course of the season thus far, and are currently last in the GSC in scoring with a 55.9 points per game average.

The Tigers' lack of offensive production appears all the more favorable for VSU after taking into account the Lady Blazers' efforts on defense this year. Throughout his 13 years at Valdosta State, Head Coach Kiley Hill has consistently placed a strong defensive squad on the floor.

So far, the 2013-14 season appears to be no different. The Lady Blazers currently stand at second place overall in the GSC with only 55.3 points allowed per game. The number places them just below the nationally ranked Lady Statesmen of Delta State who have held opponents to 52.3 points per game on the year.

Craig Roden's Tigers are expected to rely heavily on Quentinette Odom, the team's senior forward who is averaging 11.7 points per game. Odom connected for a 20 point game back on November 14 against Stillman, and has netted 10 or more points in all but two of the games she has played this season. In addition, the post player has been a factor on the boards for West Alabama with her 8.0 rebounds per game average.

The Lady Blazers currently stand at the top of the GSC leaderboards in three point shooting with a 34.3 shooting percentage from long range, and have outscored their opponents this season by an 8.8 margin.

In the 62 games that these two teams have faced one another, the Lady Blazers have won 38.

Last season, however, Valdosta State fell in both contests against the Tigers. VSU will certainly be looking to buck that trend on Saturday night.

Saturday night's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. start, and will be followed by the men's game, which is slated for an 8 p.m. tip. For live coverage, follow @BlazerAthletics on twitter or visit www.vstateblazers.com.

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