FORT MYERS, Fla - Valdosta State utilized its strong size advantage to knock off Florida Gulf Coast University 67-47 in the final day of the FGCU Women's Holiday Classic at Alico Arena.
The Blazers used the inside game of forwards 5-foot-11 Candice Ferrell and 5-foot-9 Khaleh Thomas to pull away in the second half for the victory in a key South Region match-up for both teams.
FGCU trailed just 29-23 at the break, after a first half that saw eight lead changes while senior Andrea Clarke (Guelph, Ontario), the Eagles leading scorer, was forced to the bench with early foul trouble.
Ferrell and Thomas were too strong inside for Eagles to handle down the stretch as the Blzaers held a lopsided 44-22 rebounding advantage, including 18 offensive rebounds.
Ferrell led all scorers with a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds while Thomas added seven points and 10 rebounds. Guard Nicole Jernigan scored 17 points while 6-foot-1 center Courtney Parker added 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Eagles, who knocked off the Blazers 63-51 on their home court 18 days ago, drop to 8-4 overall, and 5-4 in the south region. The loss was just the third in 35 games at Alico Arena for the Eagles.
Valdosta State has now won four straight since losing to FGCU and improves to 9-2 overall.
The Eagles return to action on December 29-30 in the 3rd Annual FGCU Holiday Tournament, presented by Premium Tour & Travel.
St. Joseph's (IN) will face Cameron at 2 p.m. while FGCU hosts Tuskegee at 6 p.m.in first-round matchups on Wednesday. The winners will meet Wednesday, December 30 at 6 p.m. in the championship game while the losers meet in a 2 p.m. consolation game on Wednesday.