Special to the Times

VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State's women's basketball team capitalized on an big opportunity Saturday night, defeating the Lady Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville 52-47 and taking sole possession of first place in the Gulf South Conference East Division.

The Lady Blazers (10-6, 5-1) trailed by as many as six with five minutes gone in the first half when pressure on the defensive end sparked improvement in the offense. Tenacious defense and energetic bench play engendered a 14-4 run and a Lady Blazer 21-15 lead.

"Our kids keep finding a way to win," head coach Kiley Hill said. "Knowing your role and fulfilling it to a maximum -- it doesn't matter who starts a game."

VSU's bench finished with 12 points an boundless energy in front of a surprisingly raucous 663 fans at The Complex.

Defensively, the Lady Blazers allowed the Lady Chargers (8-4, 3-1) some good looks from 3-point range in the first half that were capitalized upon, but the Lady Blazers made the necessary adjustments to take away the trifecta. VSU forced the Lady Chargers out of their 3-point game by playing man-to-man defense on the perimeter, and collapsing on the interior pass.

"The defense was tremendous tonight -- we did a great job communicating," Hill said of his club that finished with 18 steals on the night.

A true team effort on the offensive end had three Lady Blazers scoring in double figures, including junior forward Danielle Hernandez. The Gulf South Conference East Division player of the week continued her sharp shooting from the perimeter, connecting on 5 of 7 attempts. She finished her magical week with an 11-point, three-rebound, three-assist performance, and three division victories for the team.

"This [victory] is huge," an elated Hernandez said. "This is our house, no one comes in and beats us."

"We have got to be able to compete consistently on the road-- that is where the little things matter the most," said an upbeat Hill.

Courtney Parker added 10 points and five rebounds. Amber Daniels had 10 points, Traci Newton nine points. Tiffany Vann had four assists.

UAH was led by LaKendra Hogg with 13 points and seven rebounds. Charitah Jarrett added 11 points and seven rebounds.

The Lady Blazers' capped off a three-game homestand with three victories and momentum. They will hit the road for their third road conference game of the season Monday night versus Montevallo.

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