Courtesy of VSU athletics:
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Valdosta State's Courtney Mitchell scored a career high 13 points in a back-and-forth battle between the Lady Blazers and No. 8 Delta State that came down to the wire Sunday. Ultimately, Valdosta State fell to DSU, 67-56, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, to make it six consecutive postseason tournaments Delta State has knocked out VSU.
In her last game as a Lady Blazer Leschelle Matthews joined Mitchell to lead the team in scoring with 13 points. Her counterpart, Michelle Thompson, scored nine points with four assists in 39 minutes of play. Seniors Tamika Booker and Sierra Nixon led the team on the glass with five rebounds each.
A 35-21 disadvantage on the glass proved to be Valdosta State's downfall in the game, despite forcing 15 turnovers from Delta State. The game was also physical with 42 fouls committed, 23 on Valdosta State.
To start the game, Veronica Walker scored three baskets in a row for Delta State, but the Lady Blazers held a 7-6 lead four minutes into the game.
Matthews started VSU's scoring with a nice move to shake the defender at the top of the key and make a pull up jumper. Thompson followed it with five points for the Lady Blazers.
Sarita Cooper made two free throws to claim a lead for DSU, then Walker went back to work. Delta State led 15-11 with just under nine minutes left in the half, and Walker had 13 of the Lady Statesmen's points. She finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds while Cooper scored 18 with seven assists and six rebounds.
Both teams showed why they're two of the best in the south region, and the nation, as they traded baskets throughout the half. For Valdosta State, Mitchell provided an extra spark in the opening period with 12 first half points.
Still, Delta State took a 35-28 lead into the break, largely due to 19 first half points from Walker.
To start the second half, Valdosta State used a couple of mini runs to tighten the game. With a 3-0 run and a 6-0 run, the Lady Blazers pulled within two points, 39-37, with 13 minutes to play. Later, Matthews made two consecutive three-pointers to help VSU make it a one-point game, 46-45, but Valdosta State could never make it over the hump.
The teams continued to trade baskets with big shots from both, but it was still 60-54 in favor of Delta State with four minutes left to play. With just two minutes remaining, Delta State pushed the lead to 64-54.
With one minute left, Amanda Haven made Valdosta State's first field goal in nearly six minutes of play to make it 64-56, but it wasn't enough to beat Delta State. Free throws from the Lady Statesmen pushed the score to a 67-56 final.