GAFFNEY, S.C. The Columbus State women’s basketball team finally found the range from 3-point range in the second half and pulled away from Wingate 79-72 on Friday afternoon.
The win moved the Lady Cougars (25-5) into the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional semifinals against Francis Marion, a 62-61 winner over Lander on Friday. That semifinal will start at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“I really thought it just came down to making shots,” CSU coach Jonathan Norton said. “Down the stretch, we got the ball into the paint against their zone and got (Michelle) Mitchell some good looks right around that 15-foot area. We got some easy buckets in transition, and we were fortunate that they missed and we were able to get enough rebounds to keep it a two- to three-possession game down the stretch in the fourth quarter.”
Wingate scored seven straight points to take a 1-point lead, 47-46, with 4:01 left in the third quarter. At that time, CSU was 4-of-17 from 3-point range.
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All-American Michelle Mitchell hit a 3-pointer with 2:53 left to give CSU a 49-47 lead.
That was the start of a 19-8 run that saw CSU take a 65-55 lead with 7:52 left in the fourth quarter. Brea Walker and Eryn Morrow also hit 3-pointers during that run.
Wingate hit a free throw with 1:28 left to pull within eight, 71-63. The Bulldogs went to a strategy of fouling CSU and forcing it to win the game at the free-throw line.
I’m really proud of our young ladies for how we shared the basketball, moved the basketball.
Jonathan Norton, Columbus State coach
The Lady Cougars were up to the the task, hitting 8-of-10. Mitchell went 4-of-4 after Wingate hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close within six, 75-69, with 26 seconds remaining.
“Luckily, we played well today. We shot the ball well, scored 79 and had four in double figures. We were fortunate to come out on the winning side against a really good basketball team,” Norton said. “I’m really proud of our young ladies for how we shared the basketball, moved the basketball.
“And then defensively, we did something a little different. We played a lot more zone than we played the majority of the year and these young ladies bought in and made it work and it helped for the most part combat their size even though they still had some advantage but I’m really proud of that for today.”
Mitchell led the Lady Cougars with 25 points. She added seven rebounds. Ashley Asouzu added 15 points. Gabby Williams scored 13 points and handed out seven assists. Britteny Tatum added 11 points.
Mitchell said the team needed to focus playing on a neutral floor.
“It takes a little bit more (to get our energy level up), but coming in you know you have to stay focused,” Mitchell said. “That’s what Coach Norton always tells us, to play as a team and keep focused and we’ll be fine.”
Marta Miscenko led Wingate with 19 points, and Morgan McGee added 17.
“Columbus State is a very talented team and they’ve got some tremendous players on it,” Wingate coach Ann Hancock said. “I felt like we did a nice job, but they ended up doing just a little bit better job today. Michelle Mitchell is incredibly tough to stop, and they’ve got a good inside-outside game. I felt like we did some good things, they just did a little bit better.”
Norton said playing the first game on Friday would be an advantage.
“I think it’s a huge advantage. It was tough on the front side getting ready,” Norton said. “But now, we win, we feel good, we sit and watch the other games, we get rested, and we’ve got a little bit more time to turn around because we don’t play until 5:00 tomorrow. So yeah, I think it is an advantage.”
In the other semifinal, Augusta game will play the winner of Clayton State-Anderson at 7:30 p.m. Augusta, the No. 8 seed, knocked off No. 1 seed Limestone.
The championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.
NCAA SOUTHEAST REGIONAL
at Gaffney, S.C.
Columbus State 79, Wingate 72
Francis Marion 62, Lander 61
Augusta 79, Limestone 70
Clayton State vs. Anderson
Columbus State vs. Francis Marion, 5 p.m.
Limestone/Augusta vs. Clayton State/Anderson, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s winners, 7 p.m.
CSU 79, Wingate 72
Miscenko, Marta 8-16 3-6 19; McGee, Morgan 6-12 3-6 17; Rumplasch, Kristina 3-6 0-0 8; Averette, Caroline 2-6 2-2 8; Robinson, Courtney 4-8 0-0 8; Witherspoon, Danasia 2-5 1-2 5; Moody, Taziya 1-2 2-2 5; Tricoli, Shelby 1-4 0-0 2; Tomlinson, Alex 0-2 0-0 0; Neely, Amber 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 27-65 11-18 72.
COLUMBUS STATE (25-5)
Michelle Mitchell 9-14 6-6 25; Ashley Asouzu 6-11 3-4 15; Gabby Williams 5-7 2-3 13; Britteny Tatum 3-10 3-4 11; Ashley Johnson 3-6 0-0 6; Brea Walker 1-5 0-0 3; Tatiana Wayne 1-2 0-0 3; Erin Morrow 1-4 0-0 3; Alexys Woods 0-0 0-0 0; Kristian Carter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-59 14-17 79.
3-point goals--Wingate 7-13 (Rumplasch, Kristina 2-3; McGee, Morgan 2-3; Averette, Caroline 2-3; Moody, Taziya 1-1; Neely, Amber 0-1; Tricoli, Shelby 0-2), Columbus State 7-22 (Britteny Tatum 2-8; Brea Walker 1-4; Michelle Mitchell 1-2; Gabby Williams 1-2; Erin Morrow 1-4; Tatiana Wayne 1-2). Fouled out--Wingate-Tricoli, Shelby; McGee, Morgan, Columbus State-None. Rebounds--Wingate 39 (Miscenko, Marta 11), Columbus State 33 (Ashley Johnson 7; Michelle Mitchell 7). Assists--Wingate 15 (Moody, Taziya 5), Columbus State 21 (Gabby Williams 7). Total fouls--Wingate 21, Columbus State 12. Technical fouls--Wingate-None, Columbus State-None. A-171