(leeuflames.com) Playing what Coach Marty Rowe described as a great team effort by his club, the 16th-ranked Lee women’s basketball team built up a 13-point lead in the third period and then turned back a charge by the previously undefeated and 8th-ranked Valdosta State in posting a hard-fought 63-54 win over the Lady Blazers inside Walker Arena on Friday evening.
The Lady Flames led 27-24 at halftime after only scoring eight points in the 10 minutes of the second period. Led by junior Haley Schubert, the Lady Flames came out firing on all cylinders in the third frame and quickly went on top by 13 only to see Valdosta fight back and cut the lead to 48-42 at the end of the third break.
Lee sewed up the victory over the Lady Blazers by outscoring the visitors 15-12 in the fourth period. Valdosta’s chance of a comeback was hurt somewhat when Kayla Bonilla fouled out with less than two minutes remaining in the battle.
Schubert finished with 20 points and tied as Lee’s leading rebounder with seven. Hannah Garrett followed with 13 points. Freshman Julia Duncan, who played almost the entire game, had 12 points, seven boards and knocked down three key 3-pointers.
After leaving the game with a blow to the mouth area, Halle Hughes returned and finished with seven points and six rebounds. Camryn Grant played a key role with five points and fought for seven rebounds. Maddie Long had an off-shooting night (four points) but led her team with five assists.
The Lady Flames outrebounded the taller Lady Blazers 44-34. Lee held the visitors to 29% shooting from the field and just 25% from beyond the arc. Valdosta fought back by making 14-of-16 free throws while the Lady Flames converted only 10-of-16. Lee shot 39% from the field (22-of-57) and made 9-of-26 triples (35%).
However, the Lady Flames turned the basketball over 19 times to 16 for the Lady Blazers.
Lee held Valdosta’s high-scoring Bonilla to 12 points, but she had five rebounds. Alexandria Smith nailed three attempts from 3-point range and was the only other Lady Blazer in double figures with 11 points. The Lady Flames also held Kwajelin Farrar to seven points, but she led her team in rebounding with eight.
Lee won the physical play in points in the paint 20-18 and had 12 fast-break points to five for the losers.
“Valdosta is a really good team, and we know they will be ready to play tomorrow,” said Coach Rowe. “We have to continue to grow as a team and carve improvements, so tomorrow’s game is an incredible opportunity to do just that.”
Two of the best D2 teams in the nation will be on display again inside Walker Arena on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.