Lady Eagles Hold Off Columbus State to Remain Perfect, 68-64
COLUMBUS, Ga. - A furious second-half rally by
Columbus State erased a 13-point deficit, but Carson-Newman was
able to hold on for a 68-64 win in the final game of the Hughston
Thanksgiving Classic. Earlier in the day, Georgia College &
State University defeated Tusculum 78-63.
With the win, the Lady Eagles remain perfect on the season, improving to 6-0.
The Lady Cougars struggled again at the free-throw line, hitting just 14 of 28 attempts, which included a 9-19 second half. CSU committed 20 first-half turnovers that allowed Carson-Newman to gain all the momentum before the half, but cut that number in half in the final period to finish with 31 overall.
The Lady Cougars came out of the gates well in the opening period, building as much as a seven-point lead, 17-10, with 7:45 to play on Deniese Campbell's jumper. From there, however, the team committed 10 turnovers - including a stretch in the final 1:39 of the period in which CSU committed miscues on five straight possessions. Carson-Newman took advantage by closing the half on a 9-0 run and took a 33-25 lead into the locker room.
The Eagles extended that lead to 40-26 in the first 3:36 of the second half and appeared poised to break the game open. C-N maintained a double-digit lead until CSU managed to start chipping away with just over 11 minutes left.
Trailing 48-35 with 11:17 left, CSU got a Nikki Urbizo trey to cut the lead to 10, then got a steal and layup from Campbell, followed by a couple of free-throws from Campbell and Phebe Smith to cut the margin to six. After the Eagles pushed the lead back to nine, CSU went on a 13-2 run to re-take the lead. Three-pointers from Monique Jefferson and Urbizo were keys to the run - the latter coming with 5:46 left to put CSU up 55-53.
Zoriah Williams hit a pair of free-throws just under a minute later to give the lead back to Carson-Newman at 57-55 and there would be three more ties the rest of the way. The last of those ties came with just 44 seconds left as Smith drained a pair of free-throws - the only time in the second half that CSU made both free-throws in a trip to the line - to make it 64-all. Mandy Mendenhall hit a running jumper with 16 seconds left to give the Lady Eagles a 66-64 lead, but poor clock management on the ensuing Lady Cougar possession resulted in a turnover, and Mendenhall sealed the win with two free-throws with less than a second remaining.
Mendenhall led the Lady Eagles (6-0) with 21 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Cassie Bates added 13 and Shari Buford 10. Buford led all players in rebounding with 12 in the game. The Lady Eagles shot just 36 percent overall, but hit 15 of 20 free-throw attempts on the day. C-N committed 25 turnovers and blocked eight shots.
Phebe Smith, despite grappling with foul trouble for most of the game, led CSU with 16 points and 10 rebounds - her fourth double-double in as many games. Campbell flirted with a triple double, scoring 13 points to go with eight rebounds and eight steals, but was just 3-9 at the free-throw line on the day. Urbizo added 11 points. CSU held a 46-40 advantage in rebounds and also collected 14 steals in the game. The Lady Cougars shot 46 percent in the second half to finish at 38 percent on the day.
The Lady Eagles return to action on Wednesday night at Maryville, Tenn. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
(Courtesy CSU Sports Information)