VALDOSTA –– Playing their fifth game in nine days, the No.5 Valdosta State women (14-2 Gulf South Conference) ran out of gas in a 78-70 loss to Montevallo (8-4, 8-3 GSC) Saturday.
On a second leg of a back-to-back, the Blazers followed up one of their best offensive efforts with one of their worst.
The Blazers led the Falcons by as many as 10 points in the game, and held an eight-point lead in the third quarter on two free throws by senior guard Kayla Bonilla.
The third quarter saw the Blazers shoot 60% from the floor in the period, but an aggressive, hard-driving Falcons offense proved too much for the weary Blazers.
The Falcons outscored the Blazers 29-17 in the fourth quarter as VSU shot 4-of-13 from the floor and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. After connecting on 11-of-19 triples in Friday’s 85-71 win over the Falcons, the Blazers went 4-of-22 on Saturday –– missing all eight of their 3-point attempts in the second half.
After hitting a season-high 61.4% of their shots on Friday, the Blazers cooled to 41% just 20 hours later.
“Kwajelin (Farrar) being in foul trouble tonight –– she had four fouls –– we were able to easily score inside, get the ball in to her and then look for easy scores,” VSU head coach Deandra Schirmer said. “When she’s in foul trouble on the bench, they were getting in and getting some turnovers on some of our entries into the post, really taking away our inside game is what I think they did a good job of in the fourth.”
Not only did their shooting eye desert them, turnovers continued to haunt the Blazers as the Falcons forced 21 giveaways Saturday.
For the weekend, the Blazers committed an eye-popping 53 turnovers in two games.
“(Friday), a lot of it was forced turnovers,” Schirmer said of the turnover problems. “Their press was getting after it. Today, we were slow. We were a step slow on everything. We were lackadaisical on some of our passes. Today, there were a lot of unforced turnovers that we had. That was very frustrating from our end because it was a lot of the stuff that we went over, making sure we’re taking care of the ball. That’s what they do. Credit to Montevallo. They have a great team, they’ve done great this season and they turn you over. We’ve got to do a better job of making better decisions down the stretch.”
Kourtnie Smith and Jordan Jones each poured in 15 points as the Falcons placed four players in double figures. Marisa Snodgrass finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists while Kiya Sain added 11 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Early foul trouble to starting center Kwajelin Farrar gutted the Blazers’ interior defense as the Falcons’ persistent effort to attack the basket yielded its desired result.
The Falcons outscored the Blazers 50-42 in the paint and scored 22 points off the Blazers’ 21 turnovers.
Oftentimes, the Blazers were a step slow on defensive rotations to cut off driving lanes to the Falcons.
“A lot of it has to do with faitgue,” Schirmer said. “We’ve played five games in nine days and the sure-tell sign of fatigue is giving up 29 points in the fourth, also shooting 18% from 3. I really felt like, down the stretch, we were getting some wide open looks from 3 and weren’t able to connect. We were struggling a little bit with our legs and we should’ve done a better job (Friday) of getting some rotations so we could have fresher legs.”
For the game, the Falcons shot 41.7%, but closed the game shooting almost 56% from the floor to snap the Blazers’ seven-game winning streak.
Despite being limited to only 17 minutes, Farrar dominated inside with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season.
Jirah Ards also posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes. Bonilla added 17 points, but finished with two assists and five turnovers in the game.
Abby Rouse came off the bench to score a season-high 12 points with seven rebounds, but also committed five turnovers in the loss.
Montevallo: Hosts West Florida Feb. 12 and 13.
Valdosta State: Visits Auburn Montgomery Feb. 12 and 13.