The Lady Blazers just can’t seem to lose.
Since starting the season 0-2, the Lady Blazers have rattled off 12 straight wins, with their most recent victim being West Alabama (9-7, 6-6 Gulf South Conference), 59-52. The win pushed VSU to 11-1 in GSC play.
While VSU led for most of the game, the Tigers gave the Lady Blazers fits all game. Still, head coach Deandra Schirmer believes her team’s versatility has been the difference during the Lady Blazers’ winning streak.
“I think the one thing that I’ve been so impressed with our group is our versatility because we are getting everybody’s best shot, but also every single team in this conference this year is drastically different,” Schirmer said. “For us to have the versatility to face off against guard-oriented teams and be able to get the win and then face off against a team like this—which is gonna pound it down your throat and get a lot of rebounds and power it off the glass—to be able to win in a lot of different fashions is something that I’ve been very impressed with this group.”
The Lady Blazers found themselves in a battle throughout the first quarter, getting little distance from the Tigers. VSU found themselves up 16-12 after the first quarter.
The Lady Blazers went on a 17-6 run to open the second quarter. Sophomore guard Taylor Searcey and senior guard Jirah Ards each scored five points during the run, with both scoring nine points in the first half.
The Tigers ended the run and the first half scoring with a 3-pointer but still found themselves trailing 33-21.
The Tigers began the third quarter with a 12-2 run to make it a two-point game. Schirmer thought that she was overcoaching, resulting in the Tigers closing the gap.
“I think sometimes you can coach them too much, and you can overdo it,” Schirmer said. “I think when they made that run in the third, I was over calling plays instead of letting our girls just play basketball. I think we started thinking a little bit too much. We started turning the ball over, and we’re at our best when we’re getting out in transition and we’re flowing into our primary break. So, we got back to that a little bit. You were able to see some quick transition buckets that really ended up busting the lead back out.”
Despite the run, the Lady Blazers still found themselves up 41-37 heading into the fourth quarter. Though VSU couldn’t shake the Tigers’ pursuit, the Lady Blazers never wavered.
The Lady Blazers drove into the paint throughout the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of their 18 fourth-quarter points inside the key. VSU was ultimately able to build a 58-48 lead late in the game to close out the Tigers.
Searcey finished the game with 20 points and seven rebounds. However, Schirmer thinks Searcey’s biggest plays were a pair of critical jump balls against West Alabama’s Bria Dent.
“[Taylor’s] somebody that, we always talk about energy finds the ball, and Taylor has an endless supply of energy,” Schirmer said. “Yes, she had 20 points, but I think two of her best plays of the game were when she got key jump balls on rebounds that Bria Dent, if she would have got it, it would have been an and-one; it would have been two points. That’s a four-point swing for us if we’re unable to get that ball.”
While the Lady Blazers feel the pressure of maintaining the winning streak, Schirmer believes her team is up to the task.
“We always talk about [how] pressure is a privilege,” Schirmer said. “We want to be known as one of the top teams in the conference. We want to be known as one of the top teams in region and one of the top teams in the country, so we can’t sit here and complain about it when we get everybody’s best shot. So yes, there’s pressure, but once we’re able to feel comfortable being uncomfortable, then we’re able to really run off those wins and get a 12-game winning streak.”
The Lady Blazers will be on the road for a pair of conference games against Shorter and No. 13 Lee. VSU will face Shorter on Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m. and will face Lee on Jan. 14 at 2 p.m.
Written by Austin Bruce, Sports Editor. Photo courtesy of VSU.