The Lady Blazers held a two-point advantage at the 15:59 mark in the opening half but after that it was all Lady Flames. Thanks to another strong output from senior Hollie German and junior Jenna Adams, Lee jumped out to a 33-24 halftime advantage. The Lady Flames fired out of the locker room and outscored Valdosta State 36-20 in the second period to close out the 26-point victory.
German led all-scorers with 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field. The senior also excelled behind the arc, where she canned six treys on 10 attempts. Junior Jenna Adams delivered 14 points of her own while pulling down seven rebounds. Myriah Illes rounded out the double-figure scoring with 10 points, seven boards and two blocked shots.
Coach Marty Rowe got quality production from his bench in the contest as well. Kayla Beavers registered eight points to go along with Illes' 10 markers. Christina Johnson didn’t score but had five big rebounds. The Lady Flames outscored Valdosta State 18-8 in points off the bench.
"If we get that type of play off the bench we are a good basketball team," said Rowe after putting his 397th coaching win in the books. "This allows us to get Hollie and Rachel (Lockhart) a little rest. "Our extra work in practice is really starting to pay off, especially with our younger players. We know KB (Beavers) can shoot the ball and her teammates have confidence in her. She made a really big 3 for us to help open up the lead in the second half."
Lee held the edge in rebounding by a 39-29 margin. The Lady Flames were guilty of 18 floor mistakes while the Lady Blazers committed 15 turnovers.
The stifling Lee defense limited Valdosta State to just 27.1 percent shooting in the contest and just 21.4 percent in the second half. "That is the best our defense has been all year," stressed Rowe. "We got after them and contested almost every shot."
The Lady Flames shot 50 percent in the opening half and never slowed down, hitting 13-of-25 second half shots, good for 52 percent from the field. The home team shot the ball well from 3-point distance as well, going 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) for the game.
Amy Duke led the way for the Lady Blazers with 13 markers. Courtney Sprague added nine points to go along with eight rebounds.
The victory moves Lee to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in GSC play. The win also extends the Lady Flames’ dominance at home as they have now won 43 straight contests at Walker Arena. The last defeat came on Nov. 29, 2010. "I could not be more happier with this group," Rowe added. "Maybe I've been a little too hard on them. We backed off a little and they responded. But we have got to continue to work hard and get better."
The loss drops VSU to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
The Lady Flames will get some time off for the Christmas break and will return to the hardwood in Florence, Ala., to kick off 2014 when they tangle with GSC rival North Alabama on Jan. 4.
Lee University men's basketball extended its home win streak to 23 games with a 72-59 upset of No. 25 Valdosta State University Thursday evening in Paul Dana Walker Arena. The Flames improved to 6-2 overall and moved to 2-0 in the Gulf South Conference.
Lee carried a three-point margin in the halftime break and converted 14-of-15 free-throw attempts in the second half, including 10 consecutive in the final 3 ½ minutes, to extend the lead from five to the final margin of 13.
Corey Billingsley made good on 10-of-11 trips to the foul line on his way to scoring a game-high 20 points. The junior guard added eight rebounds and four assists to the cause. "I challenged Corey and the rest of the team about rebounding after the West Florida game on Monday," said coach Tommy Brown. "We got a solid effort out of a lot of players tonight and that is what it takes to beat a team as good as Valdosta."
Stedmon Ford hit 5-of-8 three-point field goal attempts to end the night with 15 points to go with four rebounds. Four of his treys came in the first half. “He just has a special way of making some big shots," noted Brown.
Brice Sharp was 5-for-6 at the line and posted nine points and six rebounds. Jamal Worthington and Tyquan Roberts both added eight markers. Chad Lee, Jay Marquette and Valentino Thomas rounded out the scoring with four points each. Chad Lee also had seven boards. "Jamal played tonight like he's been playing in practice. He has outstanding athletic ability and it is starting to show," Brown said.
The Lee coach went on to praise the effort of Brice Sharp on both ends of the floor. "Brice had waited a long time for this opportunity and to play with a healthy body. You will not find a better person and harder worker than Brice."
Valdosta State (7-1, 1-1 GSC) entered the night as the Gulf South Conference's last unbeaten team and riding a seven-game win streak.
Jeremy McKay was the top scorer for the Blazers with 17 points. Jarod Leonard gave Valdosta State two double-digit scorers with 11 points of his own. Leonard shared the team lead of six rebounds with Jalen Crawford.
A couple nights removed from being outrebounded by 18 against West Florida, the Flames hit the boards to pull down 49 rebounds to Valdosta State's 33.
Lee held the Blazers well under their season average of 88.6 points per game and Valdosta State's field percentage of 31.3 percent was the team's lowest of the year. "We pushed the ball up the floor when we got rebounds, and showed good patience when we needed to. I'm kind of speechless. We beat an awfully good team. Now we'll have to see how this young team reacts on the road in this conference."
The Flames will take a little time off for the holidays before getting back to the grind. Lee hits the court again on Jan. 4 with a trip to Florence, Ala., to face the University of North Alabama followed by a Jan. 6 date with Union University in Jackson.