There were a lot of reasons the Columbus State Lady Cougars didn't deserve to win their Peach Belt Conference game against Georgia Southwestern Thursday night at The Lumpkin Center. You could point at the Lady Cougars going 26-for-75 (34.7 percent) from the field, their 10-of-22 performance (45.5 percent) at the free-throw line or maybe even their 13 turnovers as reasons why they shouldn't have won.
However, good teams find ways to win and in the end, Columbus State found a way and held off Georgia Southwestern, 67-56, to earn their fifth straight win and seventh victory in their last eight contests.
"In the last five minutes of the game, we really challenged (Georgia Southwestern) defensively," said Columbus State coach Jonathan Norton, whose team held the Lady Hurricanes to just one field goal and three points in the final 5:46 of the game, including no points in the final 3:17.
"We went to a man-to-man defense and picked up the intensity. That intensity for the last five minutes was outstanding. The first 35 minutes, not so much."
Columbus State (14-4, 9-3) took a 7-0 lead 3:28 into the game, but poor shooting by the Lady Cougars allowed Georgia Southwestern (8-12, 3-10) to hang around. Columbus State made only 7 of its first 26 shots and as a result the Lady Hurricanes were still only down 41-32 at halftime despite shooting only 38.9 percent (14-of-36) from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
The Lady Cougars pushed their lead out to 12 points at 54-42 midway through the second half before Georgia Southwestern scored the next 11 points to pull to within 54-53 on a basket by Shanedra Lockett with 5:46 remaining. That was when Columbus State took control of the game for good, getting a putback basket from Asha Alexander and a 3-pointer from Dee Dee Deshazer as part of a 7-0 run to build a 61-53 advantage with 3:55 left.
Shatoria Hudson sank a 3-pointer to get the Lady Hurricanes back to within 61-56 on Georgia Southwestern's next possession, but a basket by Chatil Bradford, along with another 3-pointer by Deshazer made it 66-56 with 2:07 remaining and the Lady COugars were able to hold on from there.
"Our team really has a 'next man up' feeling to it," said Norton. "(Deshazer) is one of our backup shooting guards and we put her in there tonight and she made two huge 3-pointers for us. It got to the point where (starter Tae Smith) was on the bench cheering her on and telling me to keep (Deshazer) in the game. They believe in each other and to this team, it doesn't matter who's getting it done out there as long as we win."
Alexander had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists and Bradford had a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists to lead the Lady Cougars' offense. Carrie Washington had another huge game down low for CSU, scoring 13 points, pulling down 18 rebounds and blocking four more shots to move into third place on the CSU all-time list for blocked shots with 68. Deshazer pitched in nine, making three of her five 3-point attempts.
Lockett had a big game to pace Georgia Southwestern, scoring 20 with 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Jasmine McSwain had 12 for the Lady Hurricanes, who have dropped two straight and four of their last five.
Columbus State now takes on North Georgia (15-4, 9-3) in a critical Peach Belt Conference game Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at The Lumpkin Center and Norton knows his team will need to play well to come away with a win.
"I think North Georgia is going to come in here focused," said Norton. "Georgia Southwestern was a more athletic team, but North Georgia is a fundamentally sound team. We're going to have chances to make shots against them, but our defensive intensity is going to have to be there if we want to win. I think our missed shots affected our defensive effort tonight and we can't let that happen (Saturday)."
GEORGIA SOUTHWESTERN (8-12, 3-10 PBC)
Shanedra Lockett 9-12 2-2 20; Jasmine McSwain 4-13 4-4 12; S.
Barrino-Kennedy 3-7 0-0 6; Shatoria Hudson 2-7 0-0 5; Jodelle Dixon 2-3 0-0
4; Tiara Thompson 2-8 0-0 4; Danisha Green 1-5 1-1 3; Tanyetta Hill 1-1 0-0
2; Shaniece Sheffield 0-3 0-0 0; Danyelle Jones 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 24-64 7-7
COLUMBUS STATE (14-4, 9-3 PBC)
Chatil Bradford 5-17 4-6 14; Asha Alexander 5-13 4-8 14; Carrie Washington
6-9 1-3 13; Dee Dee Deshazer 3-7 0-0 9; Britteny Tatum 4-9 1-5 9; Kayla
Richards 1-1 0-0 3; Kristen Kennebrew 1-5 0-0 3; Ashley Asouzu 1-2 0-0 2;
Michelle Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0; Tae Smith 0-10 0-0 0; Kim Blake 0-2 0-0 0.
Totals 26-75 10-22 67.
Halftime: Columbus State 41-31. 3-point goals--Georgia Southwestern 1-10 (Shatoria Hudson 1-2; Jasmine
McSwain 0-3; S. Barrino-Kennedy 0-1; Tiara Thompson 0-2; Shanedra Lockett
0-2), Columbus State 5-18 (Dee Dee Deshazer 3-5; Kayla Richards 1-1; Kristen
Kennebrew 1-3; Britteny Tatum 0-2; Tae Smith 0-5; Kim Blake 0-1; Chatil
Bradford 0-1). Fouled out--Georgia Southwestern-Tiara Thompson, Columbus
State-None. Rebounds--Georgia Southwestern 43 (Shanedra Lockett 10),
Columbus State 53 (Carrie Washington 18). Assists--Georgia Southwestern 16
(Danisha Green 4), Columbus State 12 (Britteny Tatum 4). Total
fouls--Georgia Southwestern 21, Columbus State 10. Technical fouls--Georgia
Southwestern-None, Columbus State-None. A-505