With the Lady Blazers bench consisting of only four girls, Coach Kiley Hill was desperate for some good minutes while starters rested. He got just that. After a slow start, the Blazers bench led the way to put together a dominating performance, ousting Concordia-Selma by a 57-24 score.
Leading the way for VSU were freshmen Alisha Crawford, who finished with a team high 14 points on 6-13 shooting, and Bena Hanyard with 10 points. After the Lady Hornets of Concordia jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, Crawford and Hanyard came in and quickly brought a much needed spark to the Blazers offense.
“It was important because Sczeny (Hartry) was kind of tired so coach put me in. He expected me to have a spark off the bench. He said all bench players should have a spark, so I took that and ran with it.”
The Lady Blazers held a 17-point lead at the half, but faced the challenge of sustaining that lead throughout the second half.
The Lady Blazers did just that, as they forced 10 more turnovers in the second half, equaling their first half total. In addition, the Lady Blazers controlled the paint by out-rebounding Concordia 51-33 and scoring 28 points in the paint. VSU ended up extending their lead to 34 points with only minutes remaining in the game.
Recently, the Lady Blazers have shown some heart and grit late in games, which will definitely be helpful come tournament time.
“I think it was great,” Hill said. “That’s something that we have really struggled with, but over the last 2-3 weeks, we have been very successful with it.”
Coach Hill could be heard several times throughout the game yelling to get the ball inside. This was a result of the zone that Concordia-Selma was throwing at the Lady Blazers. It took some time but VSU finally got it going offensively in the second half, improving their field goal percentage from 32 percent to 43 percent.
“One of the things to be able to attack the zone, you got to be able to draw people in,” Hill said. “It may be off the dribble or off the pass and we decided we were going to play ‘hot potato’ on the perimeter. Finally, when we started attacking it and getting in some gaps, sucking people to us, we were able to get perimeter looks in rhythm and post touches inside. And when we did get those post touches we weren’t aggressive enough in the paint. That created some type of movement, which we were very stagnant for the first 13 minutes of that basketball game.”
Offensively, the Blazers struggled in the half court for much of the first half, but due to their determination on the defensive end, they were able to create turnovers and get easy buckets.
“That’s what we hang our hat on,” Hill said. “The reality is, we struggle with scoring. There’s no question about that, and hanging onto the basketball at times. So we have to be in position to make some defensive stops to get us in transition, to get us more chances on the offensive end and that’s what we ended up doing.”
With the win, the Lady Blazers move to 13-12 on the season and will play their season finale at the Complex Saturday against West Georgia, before they head into tournament play.