ATLANTA -- During their regular-season encounter in January at the Health and Physical Education Complex, the hometown Fort Valley State womens basketball team had its way and ran circles around Lane.
During Mondays opening round of the SIAC basketball tournament at Morehouse, it was a case of different venue, same results.
The No. 4 seed and defending tournament champion Wildcats speed and experience was too much for the fifth-seeded Dragons to handle with Fort Valley State posting another rout, winning 100-61.
Its always good to win your first game in the tournament. Were still hungry, and were still the SIAC champions until someone takes it away from us, Fort Valley State head coach Lonnie Bartley said. We played really well (Monday), and our press overwhelmed Lane. Were still looking to play our best basketball, and it would be great to play it at tournament time.
As a result of the win, Fort Valley State advances to the quarterfinals, where it will face top-seeded Tuskegee (14-12) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Five Wildcats posted double figures, led by guard Jayme Gilbert, who dropped a game-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. Antionna Jefferson followed up with 16 points off the bench. DAmbria Thomas added 14 points with six steals and four assists. Reserve player Dominique Collier contributed with 13 points, while Briana Shepherd added 10 points.
I was confident we were going to win, Gilbert said. I told myself if Im open to take the shot. I got into a rhythm and the shots started going in. I got my teammates in the flow, and we made it happen.
The contest jumped out to sluggish start from both teams, but Fort Valley State soon found a comfortable groove, going up 24-12 midway through the first half. That momentum stayed on their side for the remainder of the half, and the Wildcats led 41-36 at intermission.
Whatever plans and adjustments Lanes coaching staff preached in the locker room during the break proved to be futile once play resumed. Fort Valley State continued to unleash its furry on the Dragons in the second half.
Following the game, the Wildcats returned home and will practice Tuesday for Tuskegee. In the lone matchup this season, Fort Valley State was upended 71-67 on Jan. 10. This second-round affair is also rematch of last years SIAC title game, won by Fort Valley State 61-52.
Theyre the No. 1 seed and theyre confident -- maybe a bit overconfident. Id like nothing better to have a win over the No. 1 seed in the west, Bartley said.
In other news from the SIAC tournament, junior forward Shytina Harley was the lone Fort Valley State player selected to the all-SIAC team. Harley averaged 10.4 points per game during the season. Harley and DAmbria Thomas were named to the all-academic team.
Fort Valley States men open conference tournament play at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday against Kentucky State.