Lady Cougars rally to beat Montevallo in PBC opener

COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Columbus State Lady Cougars put together a late comeback led by Asha Alexander to defeat Montevallo 63-60 on Saturday at the Lumpkin Center in the Peach Belt Conference opener for both teams. Alexander scored the last four CSU field goals, eight of the last 10 points for the Lady Cougars. Columbus State improves to 6-1, 1-0 in the PBC and Montevallo is 3-5, 0-1 in the conference.

Alexander had a game-high 25 points and led the Lady Cougars in rebounding with nine boards. Chatil Bradford added 13 points and had seven rebounds. Junior center Carrie Washington moved up to sixth in the CSU Record Book for career blocks after three in the game, making a total of 47 in her two-plus seasons at Columbus State. She needs three more to move into the number-five spot.

"It was a really big win," said CSU head coach Jonathan Norton. "It is great to protect your home court in conference divisional play. I am proud of our defensive effort in the second half."

Taylor Beverly led Montevallo's offense and rebounding with a double-double of 23 points and 12 boards. Shay Bonner had 13 points and Jacquelyn Thompson posted 11. The Falcons outrebounded CSU 51-44.

Bradford and Alexander, both starting seniors, led the Lady Cougars to an early 11-7 lead with 14:48 on the clock, but Montevallo stormed back with 11 unanswered points in just over two minutes. Alexander made a pair of free throws to stop the streak at 12:02 as Montevallo led 18-13.

It was six minutes between field goals for Columbus State when Britteny Tatum drained a three-pointer at the 8:46 mark and pulled the Lady Cougars within four, 20-16. Montevallo held onto a steady advantage when Norton called a timeout at 5:55, then Kayla Richards came off the bench and had back-to-back treys. Montevallo led 31-24.

The Falcons continued to outscore the Lady Cougars and led 40-33 at the half. Columbus State was limited to just 28.6% (10-for-36) from the floor and Montevallo shot 41.0% (16-for-39) in the half.

CSU's shooting nightmares continued as the Lady Cougars went 4-for-18 out of the break. Bradford scored the first three buckets and Alexander added a layup. With Montevallo just 2-for-9 and racking up seven turnovers, the game was still only a seven-point difference when the half's second media timeout was called at 11:40. The Falcons led the way 48-41.

In the next four minutes, the Lady Cougars scratched their way within one point with an 11-3 run capped off on a layup by Tatum with 7:09 on the clock. Montevallo responded with a timeout as they led 51-50.

A three-pointer by Tae Smith followed by an Alexander jumper tied the game at 55 all with 3:41 to go. A foul put UM's Carrington Caise on the line where she made one of two and put the Falcons back up, only by one point. Seconds later, with CSU in the double-bonus, Bonner hit one of two from the charity stripe, 57-55 with 2:56 left in regulation.

Columbus State was struggling from the line in the second half, 0-for-5, while Montevallo went to the stripe two more times and netted two points. Alexander dropped in a layup at 1:45 to pull the Lady Cougars within two, 59-57. Caise turned the ball over to CSU but Tatum returned the favor. An offensive foul by Caise put CSU back on offense with 1:29 left and Alexander struck with a jump shot to tie it up at 59 points each.

UM's Beverly went to the line and landed one of two. The Lady Cougars headed down the court then Alexander rebounded a missed trey by Smith and put it back for two points to put CSU up 61-60. The Falcons turned it over again on another offensive foul by Caise with just 25 seconds to go.

Columbus State couldn't sneak the ball in past Montevallo's defense and turned it over on a five-second violation but a wild pass by Caise allowed Alexander to pick the ball up on CSU's side of the court. Although Washington missed a jump shot in the paint, a foul by UM's Katie Colson put CSU's top free throw shooter Richards on the line. She easily made both and put the Lady Cougars up 63-60 with five seconds left.

Montevallo wasn't able to get a shot off as time expired. The Lady Cougars clinched their third consecutive win at home over the Falcons.

Columbus State will have one more PBC contest before the Christmas holiday break. No. 7 Clayton State will come to the Lumpkin Center for a 5:30 ET tipoff on Tuesday.