VSU women blow out UAH for 11th straight win

Jan. 7—VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State women continued its defensive dominance and hot shooting as they romped visiting Alabama-Huntsville 75-57 Thursday night.

Junior guard Emma Martin poured in a game-high 18 points for the Blazers. The sharpshooter from Richfield, Utah didn't miss a single shot as she went a perfect 6 of 6 from the floor and buried four 3-pointers in 24 minutes off the bench.

"I think Emma Martin is one of the best shooters in our conference, if not one of the best shooters in the country and the thing we're starting to see now is her teammates are starting to find ways to get her the ball and her teammates are starting to find ways to drive and create," VSU head coach Deandra Schirmer said. "Taylor Searcey had a career-high 24 points the other night. Teams have to respond to that so now when they're doubling Taylor, Taylor had six assists tonight. It's always give and take for us and if the opponent is trying to take one thing away, we'll always have an answer."

Martin got plenty of help as junior power forward Aleisha Curry scored 11 points along with four rebounds and two blocks in her first start of the season. Australian junior Lili Long finished with 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting for the Blazers, who pushed their winning streak to 11 games.

"We've been working all week on our offense and I think it didn't really show in the first half because we were missing wide open layups and wide open looks," Schirmer said. "As soon as we starting hitting shots in that second half, Emma Martin in particular came out and had a big game for us, hitting some outside shots. That just opened everything up for us.

"Our defense is always gonna be a constant, but it's been a focus of ours to have a little bit more consistency on our offensive end, a little bit more of a consistent attack, and I think that tonight we really did that."

VSU shot 50% from the floor, 6 of 14 from 3-point range and made 13 of 16 free throws in the game. The Blazers, despite having some issues late preserving the 23-point lead they built early in the fourth, shot nearly 77% (10 of 13) from the floor in the final period.

Offensively, the Blazers were crisp with their ball movement and executed against the lowly Chargers. The Blazers finished with 22 assists on 28 made field goals and committed a season-low nine turnovers.

"I'll take 22 assists and only nine turnovers," Schirmer said smiling. "That's really a testament to the girls making sure that they're executing our offense and playing inside-out basketball."

Defensively, the Blazers held the Chargers to 40.7% shooting and just 3 of 21 from beyond the arc.

One area the Blazers were particularly strong in Thursday was their effectiveness inside. They outscored the Chargers 42-30 in the paint as Curry, Long and Kate Tanner each feasted on opportunities around the basket.

"We have always talked about the most dominant interior force, the most dominant post players in the conference — since I've been here, that's the team that wins the Gulf South Conference, whoever had the best post play," Schirmer said. "For us, we've been working on that. You've seen Aleisha Curry has gotten a little bit healthier, so she's developed. I thought Kate came in and gave good minutes and was able to score inside. But then also, we've got taller guards so to be able to post up and to use the interior not just for our post players but some of our more skilled guards, we were appreciative being able to execute that."

Jesse Jennings led UAH with 15 points off the bench in the loss.

Despite a poor shooting first half, VSU led 28-19 at intermission. The Blazers shot just 10 of 29 in the first 20 minutes, but largely held onto a comfortable lead throughout as the Chargers never led in the game.


The Blazers host the West Alabama Tigers (9-6, 6-5 GSC) Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

"I'm seeing some maturity," Schirmer said of her team during the winning streak. "It's hard coming out every single night knowing you've got a big target on your back. You've won two championships in a row, so everybody's gunning for you. You're getting everybody's best shot. We have to have the maturity to be consistent night in and night out. Eleven games in a row is not easy and in this conference, if you have an off night, you can get clipped by any team."

Shane Thomas is the sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times.