The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta State used a strong first-half performance from sophomore Kourtnee Williams and a strong second-half from senior Brittney Nelson to beat the Shorter Lady Hawks 51-40 at the P.E. Complex Saturday afternoon.
Nelson finished with a game-high 16 points — all of which were scored in the second half — and 10 rebounds, while Williams finished with 15 points — 13 in the first half — and seven boards to improve the Lady Blazers to 9-3 on the season.
“I thought it was a great team effort,” Valdosta State coach Kiley Hill said. “I thought Kourtnee Williams carried us in the first half and throughout the basketball game. She played a solid 40 minutes. I thought we did a great job of responding to some adjustments.”
Williams helped guide the Lady Blazers out of an 8 1/2 minute scoring drought in the first half, keeping their narrow lead intact. The sophomore scored eight of 10 points during one stretch — including a 3-pointer that ended the drought — as the Lady Blazers pushed their lead to as many as eight.
Then, after Shorter tied the game even at 26-26 with 15:28 remaining in the game, and after being held scoreless in the first half, Nelson carried the Lady Blazers to victory. The senior from Michigan scored nine straight points as VSU went on an 11-0 run that took nearly five minutes off the clock. A few minutes later, Nelson connected on back-to-back field goals to push the Lady Blazers’ lead to 14 points, 45-31, their largest lead of the game.
“I don’t know if I played a little bit more guard or what, but I was just more aggressive and not just settling for a three,” Nelson said. “I don’t usually get the one-dribble pull-ups, so I took those more.”
Added Hill: “There are a lot of expectations with what (Nelson) is asked to do with this basketball team, and she wasn’t mentally checked in, especially in the first half. That’s what I was so upset with. Once she kind of got focus in and mentally focused, and started to understand how people were guarding her, good things began to happen.”
Valdosta State finished shooting 46 percent from the floor (22 of 47), although finishing just 1 of 5 from the free throw line.
Shorter was plagued by poor shooting, connecting on just 14 of 52 field goal attempts.
“I thought we did a good job disrupting certain kids,” Hill said. “And then offensively, we just couldn’t get a rhythm in the first half. It was a product of what I was trying to call and certain things. So in the second half, we said we were going to do this and this and we were finally able to put the ball in certain positions.”