VALDOSTA – Trailing by as many as nine in the second quarter, the No. 15 Valdosta State women's basketball team outscored visiting Benedict 39-27 in the second half for a 65-58 victory Saturday in the South Region Crossover at The Complex.
The Lady Blazers improved to 2-0 on the year, while Benedict fell to 1-1. VSU had four players in double figures led by a team-high 17 points from graduate student Delaney Bernard as she finished 5 of 8 from the field, 4 of 6 from range and 3 of 4 from the line, while pulling down six rebounds. Sophomore Tamiya Francis added 16 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Jirah Ards finished with 11 points and graduate student Kwajelin Farrar added ten points on 5 of 9 from the floor. As a team, the Lady Blazers shot 21 of 56 from the field for a 37.5 clip, but was helped out by making ten triples in 34 attempts and went 13 of 19 from the line.
Benedict was led by 21 points on a perfect 10 of 10 from the field and six rebounds from Keondra Archie and Ay'Anna Bey added 12 points in 40 minutes of action with 10 rebounds. The Tigers shot 24 of 54 from the field for a 44.4 clip, but were just 3 of 24 from beyond the arc and just 7 of 9 from the line.
Trailing 31-26 at intermission, the Lady Blazers came out on fire in the second half and in the third quarter as the outscored BC 15-7 for the frame. Archie scored the first bucket of the second half for a 33-26 lead, but VSU tied the game with a 10-3 run capped with a jumper from Farrar with 1:49 left in the period. Francis scored moments later for the first lead of the half and sophomore Kendall Bollmer buried a trey at the buzzer for a 41-38 lead.
The momentum carried into the fourth quarter for the Lady Blazers as Farrar opened the scoring for the frame with a jumper, but the Tigers quickly erased the five-point deficit with a layup from Archie on a miscue by the Lady Blazers. Bernard put VSU up for good with two charity tosses with 7:54 left and a 45-43 lead, which began a decisive run of 10-3 run for a 53-46 lead with 5:46 left.
Armstead pulled Benedict within four with a triple, but Ards answered with a layup and sophomore Lili Long hit a triple to put VSU up 59-51 with 2:28 left. Two more free throws by Ards gave VSU a 61-51 lead with 1:30 left. VSU went 6 of 9 from the field in the fourth quarter, 2 of 4 from range and 10 of 14 from the line for the victory.
VSU continues at home as it is scheduled to host Georgia College Saturday at 6 p.m. at The Complex.