BLUEFIELD, W. Va. – After a one-week hiatus in action, the Converse (4-0) basketball team took to the road for the first time this season to face Bluefield State (3-3) on Saturday afternoon. The Valkyries used 16 points from sophomore guard Ashley Sides to earn a hard-fought 66-63 victory over the Big Blues in non-conference action.
Sides knocked down four shots from behind the arc to lead the Valkyries, while Nigeria Davis narrowly missed a double-double after pouring in 11 points to go with a team-high nine rebounds. Abigail Lewis contributed 10 points and seven boards in the win. Despite a cold shooting performance (33%) Converse was able to extend its winning streak to four games to start the young season.
Offense was hard to come by for both teams to open the first quarter as BSC held a 2-1 lead more than three minutes into the contest. However, a lay-in by Lewis at the 6:50 mark gave the Vals their first lead (3-2). A pair of free throws and basket by Davis pushed the lead out to 7-2, but the struggles continued as Converse led by a single point (11-10) after one.
Dani Janutolo got the scoring started in the second for Bluefield State, knocking down a triple followed by a layup to stake the home team to a 15-11 advantage. Sides knocked down a triple to trim the gap to 15-14, but the Big Blues tan off a solid 17-8 run over the next six-plus minutes of game time to earn their biggest margin at 32-22 with 2:24 remaining before the intermission. The Valkyries ended the half on a 9-4 spurt, capped off by a Sides three-pointer, to head to the locker room down 36-31.
Janutolo once again started the scoring to open the second half, draining a three, but Converse kicked the offense into high gear, reeling 10 straight points to gain its first lead (41-39) since the end of the first period. From that point it was a back-and-forth affair as the two squads traded baskets and the lead over the last five and a half minutes of the third, sending the matchup to the fourth tied at 47-47.
The fourth period was heavily contested as neither team could pull away from the other. BSC started to gain a bit of breathing room after pushing the score out to 61-56 with 2:31 to go in regulation. However, the Valkyries continued to battle and did not let the game get too far away, giving themselves a chance at the end.
A Sides layup with one minute left gave the Vals a 62-61 lead, but Holly Toler came right back and made a basket of her own to regain the lead for Bluefield State. Davis came up huge in the final thirty seconds, connecting on what would be the game-winner with 29 ticks left, as well as two clutch free throws to secure the three-point win for the Purple and Gold.
The Valkyries will return to action on Wednesday, November 28, opening Conference Carolinas play against Limestone inside the Weisger Center. Tip-off for that contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.