Early Run Sends Lady Cougars to PBC Finals

GREENWOOD, S.C. – The fourth-ranked Columbus State University women’s basketball team is headed back to the Peach Belt Conference championship game after a 70-50 victory over Francis Marion on Saturday night. The PBC semifinal was played in Horne Arena at Lander University.

Sunday’s championship will mark the fourth straight season the Lady Cougars have been in the title game. The PBC championship will be a rematch from last season with CSU taking on Lander. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

“We came out a little sluggish tonight,” head coach Anita Howard said. “We got rolling late in the first quarter and started playing our brand of basketball and it showed on the scoreboard.

“We didn’t put together a full 40 minutes of basketball, but we were still able to beat a good Francis Marion team.”

After a sluggish and sloppy first seven minutes, Columbus State (27-1) found itself down 9-7. Tatiana Wayne split a pair of free throws, starting a stretch of 22 unanswered points scored by the Lady Cougars to blow the game open.

Narshanda Malone came off the bench and knocked down a 3-pointer to put CSU up 13-9 after the opening quarter and the Lady Cougars were just getting started.

Columbus State proceeded to score the first 16 points of the second quarter, taking the game from a two-point deficit to a 20-point lead. Alexis Carter scored nine of the 22 points during the run.

In total, CSU held Francis Marion (18-12) scoreless for 8:06 of game time.

The margin grew out to as much as 25, 38-13, after Ashley Asouzu put home a layup off a steal and the Lady Cougars were able to cruise the rest of the way.

FMU scored the final six points of the second quarter, but the lead was still 38-19 at the half.

Columbus State’s lead bounced between 15 and 22 over the final 20 minutes as the Lady Cougars punched their ticket into the championship contest.

Carter led the way for CSU with a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds. Asouzu added 15 points of her own. Eleven different Lady Cougars scored in the game.

The Lady Cougars shot 41.2 percent (28-of-68) for the game, posting identical 14-for-34 showings in the first and second half. CSU forced 25 turnovers and turned them into 28 points.

FMU was limited to 27.9 percent (19-for-68) overall and made just 4-of-19 3-pointers.

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