After losing three games in a row, the Delta State University Lady Statesmen found themselves in eighth place in the Gulf South Conference women’s basketball standings.
The Lady Statesmen broke the losing skid on Thursday with a hard fought 71-68 win over the University of Alabama in Huntsville in Cleveland. On Saturday, the Lady Statesmen had another tall task in front of them as they took on the Lee University Lady Flames. The Lady Flames were tied for first with Union in the GSC standings.
DSU was ready for the challenge as the team played one of its best games of the year and defeated Lee in impressive fashion 57-36 here at the Lloyd Clark Court at the Walter Sillers Coliseum. The Lady Statesmen (12-7) improved to 7-5 in the GSC as they moved up to fifth. Lee (16-4) fell to second behind Union with a 10-2 mark in the GSC. The Lady Statesmen have to finish in the top four to host a first round game in the GSC Tournament next month. DSU is only one game behind fourth place Valdosta State (14-6, 8-4 GSC).
“We just keep working to get better,” Lady Statesmen head coach Craig Roden said. “There’s no stress, no pressure. The way our tournament is one through four is the same thing. Right now, you want one of the top four spots to host that first round game. This win was big because this will be the tiebreaker. If we split with anybody, the Lee game will be the tiebreaker.”
The Lady Flames were held to just 23.6 percent (13-of-55) shooting from the floor, while the Lady Statesmen shot 37 percent (20-of-54) in the field. The 36 points are a season low for Lee.
Junior guard Nia Johnson led the Lady Statesmen with 16 points, six rebounds and a blocked shot.
“Nia is getting better everyday,” Roden said. “She’s getting more comfortable and starting to understand what she wants. A lot of that has to do with Chelsea Rhodes (assistant coach). We’re putting Nia in a lot of the same positions that Chelsea played. Chelsea is doing a really good job of taking some extra time and explaining things to her.”
Freshman forward Kirstin Brown scored six points but had a game-high 12 rebounds to aid DSU.
DSU will be back in action Thursday when the Lady Statesmen travel to Montgomery, Ala. to play Auburn University in Montgomery in a GSC showdown at 6 p.m.