CSU Lady Cougars claim fifth PBC tournament title

GREENWOOD, S.C. — The fourth-ranked Columbus State University women’s basketball team erased an 11-point halftime deficit and took home the Peach Belt Conference tournament title with a 76-61 victory over Lander on Sunday. The championship contest was played inside Horne Arena.

Five Lady Cougars finished in double figures led by Ashley Asouzu’s 16 points. The senior added 10 rebounds as well. Alexis Carter recorded a third straight double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Gabby Williams turned in 14 points, while Britteny Tatum tallied 13. Narshanda Malone came off the bench and scored 12.

Asouzu and Tatum were named to the All-PBC Tournament team, while Carter was the tournament Most Valuable Player.

With the victory, Columbus State earns the PBC’s automatic bid into the upcoming NCAA Southeast Regional.

“Lander dictated the game over the first 20 minutes,” head coach Anita Howard said. “We had a good talk at halftime and came out looking more like ourselves in the third quarter.

“This group has fought really hard this season and this is another step on the journey toward our ultimate goal.”

Behind 29 percent shooting, Columbus State (28-1) trailed 38-27 at the halftime break. The switch flipped starting the third quarter however, and the Lady Cougars stormed back.

Asouzu and Williams scored on CSU’s opening two possessions of the quarter to jumpstart the offense. After a pair of Lander free throws, Tatum kicked off a 10-4 run that brought the Lady Cougars back within three.

Lander (24-7) got a bucket to slow the run momentarily, but CSU scored the next six points with Tatum pushing Columbus State in front at the three-minute mark.

CSU gave up the lead on a 3-pointer before eight straight gave it a six-point edge.

The Lady Cougars opened up a double digit lead midway through the fourth, but Lander had one last push left. The Bearcats cut the margin back to five, 66-61, with 3:26 to play.

Two free throws from Keyrra Gillespie and a 3 from Carter sealed the deal though and wrapped up CSU’s fifth conference tournament championship.

Columbus State finished the game at 38.1 percent (24-of-63) from the field. The Lady Cougars were outstanding at the foul line, knocking down 25-of-30 attempts.

Lander was 33.9 percent (19-for-56) from the floor and 9-of-23 from the 3-point line.

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