By James Vallone
ROME -- The Lady Hawks claimed their fourth conference victory by one point, defeating West Florida, 59-58, from the Winthrop-King Centre.
Supported by a game-high 19 points from Ieshia Alexander, the Lady Hawks withstood a rally from West Florida in the second half that saw a 13 point lead become a tie game, 39-39 with just under ten minutes left to play.
Shorter (13-7, 8-4 GSC) built a ten point lead at half time thanks to 14 points from Alexander and eight from Karisma Boykin. Alexander went 6-for-10 from the field in the opening half, helping the Lady Hawks shoot 43 percent from the floor.
Alexander started off the scoring in the second half by connecting on a pair of free throws, followed by a Chelsi Matthews jumper to run the lead to 39-26 with 17:44 to play, establishing the largest lead of the night.
West Florida (5-15, 2-10 GSC) would go on a 13-0 run that was fueled by seven points from Hanna Vette – Gulf South Conference Player of the Week from two weeks ago.
Lindsey Crawford would end the run with a lay up, on her way to six second half points and seven overall – her highest single game point total since December.
West Florida would shoot 57 percent in the second half, and was led by four players reaching double digits in scoring, Jaymie Druding (15), Vette (14), Toynetta Johnson (14), and Jasmine Wigfall (10). Johnson would achieve game-highs with ten assists and five steals. While Druding would pull in seven rebounds, and Vette would add six boards. Raquel Miller, the second leading shot blocker in the GSC, would add three blocks – she entered the game averaging 1.9 blocks per game.
The Lady Hawks would get another well rounded game from Boykin as she would score ten points, gather in seven rebounds, hand out six assists, and be part of a trio of players with three steals – with Kristin Nash and Madison Rice.
Shelby Farrer would score nine points, while blocking two shots. She made two plays within the final minute to seal the home victory for the Lady Hawks.
With 35 seconds to play, Farrer would connect on a jumper that put Shorter ahead by one point. On the following trip down the court, Shorter was able to withstand a missed lay up by Johnson and an offensive rebound. Farrer would step in front of Druding and draw the charge from the Argos center to force a turnover with five seconds to play.
Shorter was able to beat the press on the inbound pass and run out the remaining clock to keep West Florida winless on the road this season, 0-6, while improving the Lady Hawks record from the Winthrop-King Centre to 8-1.
The Lady Hawks would go 13-for-19 from the free throw line, including going 8-for-10 in the second half.
Shorter took advantage of 24 West Florida turnovers, and convert those into 19 points. While winning the scoring battle from the bench – 16-3.
"This was another game that was the tale of two halves," said coach Vic Mitchell. "We shot the ball pretty well in the first half and played well defensively, holding West Florida to 36 percent."
"I am really proud of the way we withstood a strong second half that saw West Florida shoot as well as they did – 57 percent. We were fortunate to still get the victory. The game came down to making plays at the end of the game, and Shelby was able to make them on both sides of the ball within the final minute."
Shorter will move up the GSC standings and put pressure on the teams ahead of them over the final six games of the season. Next up on Saturday is a return match versus Valdosta State – the Lady Hawks lost in Valdosta on January 5, 51-40.