VSU women romp Christian Brothers behind Tanner's double-double

Dec. 15—VALDOSTA — Sophomore center Kate Tanner dominated as the Valdosta State women (7-2, 6-1 Gulf South Conference) blew out Christian Brothers (3-6, 1-5 GSC) 79-61 Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-2 Australian played her best game as a Blazer — notching her first career double-double with a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Tanner could hardly miss against the Bucs, making 11 of 13 field goals in 28 minutes.

"The beginning of the game, I really felt like there was something missing mentally so something I'm working on personally is just working through those mental blocks," Tanner said of her performance. "I was really glad that I could come out here and pull it out on the court and get it done for my teammates. We're all working so hard together out there and they're just as responsible for those points and those rebounds I got because they push me so much to make sure that I can get that done and any time I have some sort of mental block, they're right there pulling me out of it. They're just fantastic."

VSU head coach Deandra Schirmer said of the sophomore's performance: "That was probably the best basketball I've seen out of Kate Tanner. She's a phenomenal player and somebody that when we recruited her, we knew the potential that she had. To see her develop and have a game like that so early — we thought, you know, maybe end of the first year or second year — to have her come in and have a dominant performance like that, it's only going to help us moving forward because it's gonna establish our interior game, which was a main concern going into this year.

"Kate has asserted herself as a scoring post player, which is something that is great for us. Always in this conference, the team that has the best post play is usually the team that's coming out on top."

Behind Tanner's career night, the Blazers got strong efforts from their heavy lifters as three other starters finished in double figures.

Junior Tamiya Francis poured in 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting for the Blazers. The Toronto, Ontario native matched her career-high with four 3-pointers and also tied a career-best with four steals in the game.

Redshirt senior Jirah Ards stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists. Sophomore Taylor Searcey added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win.

The Blazers shot 50% from the floor and 8 of 22 from 3-point range for their seventh straight victory.

Defensively, the Blazers held the Bucs to 43.4% shooting and 7 of 20 from beyond the arc. After the Bucs hit three of their six triples in the first quarter, the Blazers limited them to 4 of 14 from deep the rest of the way. The Blazers also forced 21 CBU turnovers and recorded 13 steals as a team.

"Our calling card is always going to be our defense," Schirmer said. "When we struggled in the first quarter with defending them and taking away the 3-point shot, we challenged them going into the second quarter — can we take away their playmakers, can we take away that 3-point shot and can we also get out in transition. I feel like our transition defense had to improve from the first quarter to second quarter. Once we were able to do that, we were able to slow the game down a little bit."

Like they've tended to do this season, the Blazers started slow — trailing the Bucs 24-16 after the first quarter.

But remaining on brand, the Blazers responded with defense as they held the Bucs to four points in the second quarter.

"We just let them score way too many points in the first quarter," Tanner said. "It really was quite disappointing, so we knew that coming back into the second quarter, we needed to take back control of the game and really make that clear on the scoreboard, which was really impressive. They only scored four points in the second quarter and that just really goes to show the discipline we've been working on."

With 18 second-quarter points, the Blazers led 34-28 at halftime and inflated their cushion in the third quarter as they outscored the Bucs 30-16 to take a 64-44 lead into the fourth.

The Bucs, who trailed by 26 with 1:51 to go in the third, whittled the VSU lead down to 12 on a 3-pointer by Yaya Coleman with 6:36 remaining — capping a run of five consecutive baskets by the Bucs.

The Blazers responded promptly as Tanner converted a layup off of Searcey miss to spark an 11-2 run capped by 3-pointer from Francis to push the lead to 79-58 with 1:28 to go.

Coleman finished with 14 to lead the Bucs. Emily Jones added 13 points and four assists and Jeremia Montgomery chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Bucs, who dropped their third consecutive game.


The VSU women go on the road to round out 2022 as they visit West Florida Sunday, Dec. 18 followed by a game at Auburn Montgomery on New Year's Eve.

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