The marathon that Coach Kiley Hill alluded to earlier in the season is winding down and his Lady Blazers are hitting their stride coming down the stretch.
The Lady Blazers will travel to Pensacola, Fla. today to take on a 10-14 West Florida squad.
VSU is boasting a three-game winning streak heading into the final two regular season games, coming off an impressive 65-49 victory last Saturday over in-state rival West Georgia.
Over a thousand students packed the Complex to watch one of VSU’s top scorers, Sczeny Hartry, lead the way. She filled the stat sheet with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. Alisha Crawford came off the bench and once again provided a much needed spark, scoring nine points without a miss in just 17 minutes.
Since winter break concluded, the Lady Blazers have shown improvements on the offensive end of the floor, increasing their scoring average from 56 pre-Winter break to 58 points post-Winter break.
However, the notable improvement has come on the defensive end where VSU is second in the Gulf South Conference in scoring defense, giving up just 54 points a game. In addition, they have only allowed over 60 points four times in the last thirteen games. Hill sees improvement defensively, but still sees room for progress on the offensive end.
“We have definitely improved on the defensive side of the basketball,” Hill said. “There is no question about that. Offensively, it’s a 50/50 shot…if we can hang on to the basketball consistently, to give us chances to shoot it, then we’ll have a chance.”
A key to their three-game winning streak would be the exceptional contributions from the bench. Although there have been limited options for Hill to go to because of injuries, his bench has averaged 26 points a game during the win streak.
“It may be Alisha (Crawford), may be Bena Hanyard, it may be Brittany Ferguson who we’re bringing off right now too,” Hill said. “As long as we get some type of production from our bench, no matter who it is, I think that’s a great spark…If we can get anybody with some offensive energy, some enthusiasm, to give us some kind of ‘snap,’ then good things happen.”
Against West Georgia there were only three available subs, however, Hill says that he expects to have a full bench consisting of five women for the remaining games.
The squad is hitting their stride as the conference tournament is right around the corner. If there is a preferred time for a team to get hot and start winning games, it is at the end of the season. “The women’s side of the game is such a psychological side, especially this time of the year,” Hill said. “Of course, having any type of momentum with the ‘W’s is great. We’ve got to concentrate on West Florida because that game puts us in a position to be in the conference tournament with a higher seed.”
Despite some pressure to finish out the season with these two wins, Amanda Haven is taking the same approach to these last two.
“Just knowing that we’ve got to come out with a ‘W’ no matter what game it is during the season,” Haven said.