Atlanta, GA — In the opening game of the Georgia State Holiday and Hoops Holiday Tournament, the host team came out very aggressive as they dispatched Mississippi Valley State easily, 76-60.
The Panthers opened the game with 7-0 run. This forced Mississippi Valley State to use an early timeout, but by the time Devilettes garnered their first basket, the score had risen to 13-3.
Georgia State was not only aggressive in attacking the basket; they imposed consistent defensive pressure which discombobulated Mississippi Valley State on almost every possession. Whether it was a full court press or their half court traps, Georgia State made the Devilettes play at a pace that forced them into a litany of bad shots.
“I thought offensively in the first half, we were very good,” said Georgia State coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener. “Our percentages were very good, we hit open threes, and we were able to finish on some lay-ups — and even get to the free throw line a little bit. (We like to be) aggressive defensively, that’s what we like to do.”
One particular player that was affected the most by the Panthers tenacious pressure was the Devilettes’ best player: Joncyee Sanders. She just seemed to become disengaged and frustrated as she was not allowed to get into any type of rhythm. This led her to an uncharacteristic five turnovers in the first half while her team committed 14.
Mississippi Valley State struggled as a whole: 26.9% from the field and just 20% from the three point line. Georgia State took a commanding 47-22 lead into halftime with no turning back.
As the second half play ensued, Mississippi Valley State came out more inspired but the deficit was too much to overcome. Every time the Devilettes cut into the lead slightly, Georgia State would negate it immediately as they would respond with baskets of their own. The Panthers lead never dwindled to a point of dire concern as they were constantly the quicker, faster and more active team.
However, the last four minutes of the game became quite interesting as the Devilettes’ 1-2-2 full court press caused some havoc — what was once a 24 point lead was cut in half with just one minute left. But it would all go for naught as Georgia State’s lead was just too much to surmount.
“We had too many turnovers in the second half,” said Baldwin-Tener. “I thought we didn’t take as good care of the ball; we just played lackluster maybe like 15 mins of that half. I thought we started the second half pretty well, came out right where we left off and then when I started subbing, it seemed to be going down. I didn’t want to play those (starters) the whole second half either because we got a pretty big game tomorrow.
“We fell asleep and lost intensity. We’ve got a young basketball team; they’ve got to be mature enough to play the same whether we’re down 30 (or) up 30. That’s something we didn’t do.”
Even with their inconsistent play in the second half, one player played particularly well throughout the game. Tiffany Anderson had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds (5 offensive)
“I was really proud; I thought Tiffany played really well from the very beginning. I thought she came out, played within herself.”
Georgia State was led by the aforementioned Anderson and also reaching double figures for the Panthers: Kendra Long (12 points), Ashley Watson (11 points) and Gaby Moss (10 points). Mississippi Valley State’s Derita Silas had 11 points.