For the third consecutive season, Columbus State will play for the Peach Belt Conference Tournament women’s championship after a 78-65 win over Augusta on Saturday at Lumpkin Center.
Michelle Mitchell led all scorers with 24 points on the night, the 19th 20-point effort of the season for the two-time PBC Player of the Year. Britteny Tatum matched her career high with 20 points, while Ashley Asouzu tallied her sixth double-double of the year going for 16 points and 12 rebounds.
With the victory, the No. 23 Lady Cougars move to Sunday's championship game where they will take on Lander, the top seed out of the East. Columbus State defeated the Bearcats 78-74 on Jan. 19 in Columbus.
Columbus State will have a chance on Sunday to become the first PBC women's basketball team to win three straight conference tournaments.
"I'm really proud of our effort tonight especially on the defensive end and in rebounding," head coach Jonathan Norton said. "We said that was the key coming into the game and we did great in both areas.
"We were able to take care of business on our home court and give ourselves a chance at a third straight championship tomorrow."
Augusta (22-8) came out of the gates strong, doubling up the Lady Cougars 8-4 through the first three minutes. Asouzu then scored on the ensuing possession, starting an extended run for CSU.
Tatum sank a pair of free throws to tie the game at eight, and Mitchell stole a pass and raced to the other end to put the Lady Cougars in front.
Asouzu took over for the next 60 seconds of the game, scoring on three straight possessions to push the lead out to eight. The margin continued to grow and Tatum capped off the 16-0 spurt with another bucket to give CSU a 20-8 edge.
The Jaguars would respond though, putting up the next seven points and trimming the lead down to six (21-15) after the first. The Augusta run continued into the second quarter with a three-pointer to make it just a three-point game.
Columbus State (24-4) answered right back with a 9-1 run to move the lead back out into double figures. The Lady Cougars stayed comfortably in front to halftime, taking a 38-30 lead into the break.
Augusta scored the first four points of the third quarter to get back within four, but CSU had the answer once again. The Lady Cougars stretched the margin back across double digits and would only allow Augusta to get as close as five the rest of the way.
With less than four minutes to play in regulation, the Jaguars wrapped up a 10-0 run to trail just 64-59. Mitchell scored the next trip down the floor and CSU rattled off seven more unanswered to put the game away.
Columbus State shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from the field and went 20-for-26 (76.9 percent) from the free throw line.
Augusta was held to 37.7 percent (23-of-61) shooting and made 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) three-point attempts.