A cursory glance at the stat sheet for Saturday's Columbus State-Montevallo Peach Belt Conference women's basketball game at The Lumpkin Center would lead one to think the Lady Cougars had lost their PBC opener.
After all, Columbus State made just 23 of its 75 shots (30.7 percent), six of its 20 3-pointers (30 percent), had 13 turnovers and got outrebounded, 51-44, by the Lady Falcons.
However, the one stat that matters most is points, and that's where the Lady Cougars came out on top, 63-60, to earn their second straight win and run their record to 6-1 for the first time since 2002-03, when CSU went 28-4 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
"We showed a lot of toughness in the second half," said Columbus State women's head coach Jonathan Norton, whose team trailed for 33 of the game's 40 minutes, including 19:26 of the 20-minute second half. "We fought and fought and to win at home, especially in the conference against a division rival that we'll be seeing again, is huge."
Columbus State (6-1, 1-0) trailed 40-33 at halftime and was still down 59-55 with 2:11 to go when Shay Bonner made a pair of free throws for the Lady Falcons (3-5, 0-1).
The Lady Cougars got a pair of baskets from Asha Alexander -- who finished with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds -- to tie the game at 59 with 1:05 remaining. Taylor Beverly made a free throw to give Montevallo a narrow 60-59 advantage with 49 seconds left, but Alexander stuck in a putback with 34 seconds showing to give CSU the lead for good at 61-60.
The Lady Cougars' defense stood tall, getting an offensive foul call, a turnover and a missed shot to preserve their narrow lead.
CSU's Kayla Richards was fouled with 5.6 seconds to go and made both free throws to make it 63-60 and the Lady Falcons were unable to get a final shot off, allowing the Lady Cougars to come away with the victory.
"Winning a game like this feels great," said Alexander, who helped hold Montevallo without a field goal for the game's final 5:45. "We just had to keep our heads up and keep fighting through adversity."
CSU's defense forced Montevallo into making just 21 of its 57 shots (36.8 percent) and 24 turnovers.
The biggest key was slowing down Beverly, who finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, but she had only five points after halftime.
"We were able to get a lot of ball pressure and forced their point guard into eight turnovers," said Norton. "That was big. Also, at halftime, we challenged Carrie (Washington) and Ashley (Asouzu) to get in Beverly's face and ballguard her. They deserve a lot of credit for us being able to win today."
The game was the fifth in seven contests this year for the Lady Cougars that has been decided by three points or less and Norton said that tight-game experience paid dividends for CSU.
"To be able to win as many close games as we have is huge," said Norton. "You'll have seasons where you win a bunch of close games and ones where you lose a lot of close games. Having the belief that you can win no matter what goes wrong -- whether it be a bad shooting night, foul trouble, getting outrebounded or whatever it might be -- is very important."
Alexander agreed that having so many close games helped the Lady Cougars be able to win the game Saturday.
"Having all those close games prepared us," said Alexander. "It taught us how to win and keep playing even when nothing's falling for us. It just feels like all of our games are close-close games."
Along with Alexander's 25 and nine rebounds, Chatil Bradford finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, Richards had eight points and Asouzu had a solid all-around game off the bench with four points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. For Montevallo, Bonner added 13 points and eight rebounds and Jacequelyn Thompson pitched in 11 points, five rebounds and two assists in the loss.
Columbus State is back in action Tuesday, hosting No. 7 Clayton State (5-1, 1-0) in another Peach Belt Conference matchup.
MONTEVALLO (3-5, 0-1)
Taylor Beverly 11-17 1-3 23; Shay Bonner 4-13 4-6 13; Jacquelyn Thompson 3-9 3-3 11; Katie Colson 1-3 4-4 6; Carrington Caise 1-6 3-5 5; Jasmine Thomas
1-2 0-0 2; Kaylin Foreman 0-3 0-0 0; Ellie Mouyal 0-3 0-0 0; Bre'ana Singleton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 15-21 60.
COLUMBUS STATE (6-1, 1-0)
Asha Alexander 10-23 5-7 25; Chatil Bradford 5-18 2-2 13; Kayla Richards 2-3 2-2 8; Britteny Tatum 2-8 0-2 5; Tae Smith 2-11 0-0 5; Ashley Asouzu 1-3 2-4 4; Dee Dee Deshazer 1-3 0-0 3; Michelle Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0; Carrie Washington 0-3 0-2 0; Kim Blake 0-0 0-0 0; Kristen Kennebrew 0-3 0-0 0.
Totals 23-75 11-19 63.
Montevallo 40 20 -- 60
Columbus State 33 30 -- 63
3-point goals--Montevallo 3-8 (Jacquelyn Thompson 2-5; Shay Bonner 1-1; Carrington Caise 0-2), Columbus State 6-20 (Kayla Richards 2-2; Britteny Tatum 1-2; Dee Dee Deshazer 1-2; Chatil Bradford 1-4; Tae Smith 1-7; Kristen Kennebrew 0-2; Asha Alexander 0-1). Fouled out--Montevallo-Shay Bonner, Columbus State-None. Rebounds--Montevallo 51 (Taylor Beverly 12), Columbus State 44 (Asha Alexander 9). Assists--Montevallo 9 (Carrington Caise 3), Columbus State 6 (Britteny Tatum 2). Total fouls--Montevallo 18, Columbus State 20. Technical fouls--Montevallo-None, Columbus State-None. A-214