Junior guard leads Lions over Blazers

KeKe Gunter hits a lay-up against Valdosta State. Gunter scored 29 points in North Alabama’s 70-52 win over Valdosta State. 

KeKe Gunter was one-point away from tying her career-high, as North Alabama’s women’s basketball team picked up a 70-52 win over Valdosta State Saturday in Flowers Hall.

Gunter, who had 12 first-quarter points to set the tone, finished with a game-high 29 points and added nine rebounds to lead UNA to victory.

UNA clinched a spot in the Gulf South Conference tournament with the win, as it improves to 12-8 in conference play. With two regular season games remaining, the Lions are tied for fourth place with West Georgia and are looking for home-court advantage with a fourth place finish or better.

UNA head coach Missy Tiber said after the previous loss to West Florida, seeing today’s intensity from her team was a welcomed sight.

“We challenged their toughness and competiveness, and we weren’t going to let them give up on their selves,” Tiber said. “The energy and passion wasn’t there Thursday, and I think we saw a lot of passion today.”

UNA utilized a fast-paced offensive game by scoring 22 fast break points off 15 Valdosta State turnovers. The Blazers could not keep up, finishing with two fast break points.

The Lions shot 50 percent in the first quarter, including Gunter’s 12 points and 4-6 mark from the field. Gunter also added two three-pointers in the first half.

UNA held Valdosta State to just nine third quarter points in a defensive struggle and would not look back.

“It feels great,” Gunter said. “The way we played Thursday wasn’t the way we know to play. We put that game behind us and learned from it.”

Freshman guard Ivy Wallen contributed a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 13 points. Jaclyn Heath scored nine points, and Savannah Stults added eight points of the bench for the Lions.

Kenya Samone’ Dixon led the Blazers with 15 points.

The Lions will look to continue its winning ways when they travel to Union Feb 23.