SPARTANBURG, S.C – The Converse (2-2) basketball team used a strong defensive second half to take down Puerto Rico-Bayamon on Wednesday evening inside Hannah Gymnasium. The Valkyries forced 26 turnovers, including 14 steals, to capture their second consecutive win, outlasting a pesky Vaqueros squad, 69-57.
Nigeria Davis posted her third straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Valkyries. Brianna James tallied 14 points and six steals, her highest outputs of the season to lead all Purple and Gold scorers. Abigail Lewis also broke into double-figures, posting 11 points.
Converse owned the paint, outscoring the Vaqueros by a wide margin of 38-22, while also edging P.R.-Bayamon 25-15 in points off turnovers. The Valkyries benched chipped in 32 points with Tatum Boggs contributing six of those.
For the game Converse shot 34.7% (25-72) and only 2-of-17 (11.8%) from distance. Free throws, which have plagued the Valkyries early in the season, saw an improvement tonight as the Purple and Gold connected on 17-of-25 (68%) from the charity stripe. Puerto Rico-Bayamon was held to a cold 29.9% (20-67), including just 13.9% (5-36) from behind the arc. After being outrebounded in the first half, Converse controlled the boards of the second 20 and finished the game with a slight 53-51 edge on the glass.
The Vaqueros came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, racing out to a quick 7-2 lead after a layup from Nicolle Diaz at the 7:46 mark, forcing a quick timeout by Converse. Following the brief hiatus, that lead grew to seven (11-4) before the Valkyries used a 10-2 run to take their first lead of the game after Davis' offensive rebound and stick back with under a minute to play in the opening quarter. However, Genesis Pagan sent the Vaqueros into the second with a one-point lead (15-14) following her layup with six ticks remaining on the clock.
The second quarter was a back-and-forth affair as the game was tied on five separate occasions and changed hands just as many times over the 10 minutes. P.R.-Bayamon started the session just as it did the first, reeling off seven straight to push ahead 22-16 with 7:11 left before halftime. However, Converse showed its resiliency once more and knotted the game at 25-all following a pair of free throws by Shakori Jennings-Shuler at the 4:51 mark and took the lead just seconds later when Boggs went end-to-end and scooped a layup off the glass to get the home crowd on its feet. Over the final four minutes of action in the second the score was tied four times and the teams went into the locker room dead even at 31-31.
The third quarter belonged to the Purple and Gold as Converse tallied the initial eight points of the frame and never looked back. Serenity Hunt busted a three from the corner on a beautiful assist from Dominique Hill with 4:26 to go on the third-quarter clock to give the Valkyries a double-digit lead (45-33) for the first time in the contest.
That lead grew to as many as 17 points (67-50) when Becca Travis used a nice drop step move to score her first points in a Valkyries uniform with just over two minutes left in the game. From that point the game was well in hand and Converse celebrated with the home crowd once again after capturing the 69-57 win.
Nicolle Diaz led the Vaqueros and all scorers with 15 points, while Anellise Vargas chipped in 12. Diaz and Beverly Guevara each pulled down eight boards.
The Valkyries will be back in action on Friday, November 17 as they play host to the Rams of Columbia International during day one of the Courtyard Classic to be held at the Weisiger Center. Chowan will play Mars Hill at 4 p.m. followed by Converse and CIU at 6 p.m.