Lady Cougars hold off Shorter to win season opener -, GA News Weather & Sports

Lady Cougars hold off Shorter to win season opener

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COLUMBUS, Ga. — The Columbus State Lady Cougars let a 21-point halftime lead slip to two in the closing seconds, but held on to defeat Shorter 74-70 at the Lumpkin Center on Wednesday night.

Columbus State is now 1-0 on the season, while Shorter falls to 0-1 with the loss in its first game as an NCAA Division II program. CSU has now won three consecutive season opening games.

"We played well in the first half and hit a lot of shots, but Shorter shot well in the second half and made it tough on us," said head coach Jonathan Norton after the game. "It forced our girls to deal with some adversity and I'm proud of the way they handled it."

The Lady Cougars shot 50 percent (17-of-34) in the first half and led 43-22 at halftime. Trailing 20-18 with 10 minutes remaining, CSU closed the half on a 25-2 run. Columbus State hit five of its six first half three-pointers during the run including two by Marina DeFoor.

A Tae Smith three to begin the second half gave the Lady Cougars their largest lead of the game at 46-22. Karisma Boykin answered with a layup for Shorter which was followed by two free throws by Asha Alexander of CSU which extended the lead back to 24. From there, Shorter started to climb back into the game.

With 15:46 remaining, Lindsey Crawford knocked down a mid-range jumper to finish off an 11-4 run for the Lady Hawks which cut the CSU lead to 17.

The lead bounced between 12 and 18 for the next seven minutes where Columbus State held a 65-49 advantage with 8:20 to play.

Tamarr Williams hit her only shot of the game with 7:38 left on the clock to spark an 8-0 run for Shorter that closed the lead to five with less than four minutes to play. CSU missed all six field goals it attempted during the four minute stretch.

Columbus State extended the lead out to nine on baskets by Jasmain Carey and Taren White, but Shorter wasn't ready to go away.

Boykin, who scored 17 of her game high 20 points in the second half, hit back-to-back three-pointers to make it 69-66 with 1:24 to play.

With 55 seconds remaining, Boykin split the defense and put in another shot to close the lead to two at 70-68. It was the closest Shorter had been since trailing 24-22 with 8:19 left in the first half.

Shan Basley missed a shot with 26 seconds but pulled down her own rebound forcing the Lady Hawks to foul. Smith hit four consecutive free throws in the final 18 seconds to seal the victory for CSU.

Smith scored 15 points in her CSU debut to lead the Lady Cougars. Tandria Milton added 12 on 4-of-4 shooting from outside in her return after redshirting last season. Chatil Bradford also finished in double figures with 11 points.

Boykin led all scorers with 20 points for SU. Lynette Harris finished with 14 and Kristin Nash added 10.

Columbus State ended the game at 38.2 percent (26-of-68) from the field. The Lady Cougars were red hot from beyond the arc all night finishing 11-for-19 (57.9 percent) from outside. CSU was 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) from the charity stripe.

The Lady Cougars held Shorter to just 28.1 percent (9-of-32) shooting in the first half, but the Lady Hawks were scorching hot in the second half shooting 63.3 percent (19-for-30) over the final 20 minutes. SU struggled from the three-point line at 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) and from the free-throw line finishing just 6-of-11 (54.5 percent).

Columbus State will now play the next three games away from home beginning with a road trip to Carson-Newman on Tuesday, November 20. The tip from Jefferson City, TN will be at 5:00 p.m. ET.

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