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Lady Cougars ready for Southeast Regional

CSU opens Southeast Regional 'in close quarters'

By KEVIN PRICE

kprice@ledger-enquirer.com

Columbus State women's basketball coach Jonathan Norton took his team on a short road trip for practice this week.

Norton and the Lady Cougars practiced this week in Woodruff Gymnasium, home to the CSU basketball teams before the Lumpkin Center was built in 2001.

Norton wanted his team to get a feel for playing in an old, small venue since that is what the Lady Cougars will be playing in starting Friday in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.

Limestone's Timken Center in Gaffney, S.C., seats about 1,500, whereas the Lumpkin Center has 2,500.

"It is close quarters," Norton said of Timken. "It is a shooter's gym. I wanted to practice in a similar facility."

The second-seeded Lady Cougars will play the second game on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. against Carson-Newman (19-10), the No. 7 seed.

Carson-Newman is one of five teams in the eight-team regional from the South Atlantic Conference.

"They are very skilled players," Norton said. "They shoot well from 3 (-point range) and they have a couple of nice-sixed post players.

"It is going to be a tough matchup. They run a lot of sets with screen after screen after screen. We are going to have to be dialed in defense."

If CSU wins, it would play the winner of Anderson, the third seed, against Newberry, the sixth seed. That game is at noon.

In the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Limestone will play Catawba, the

eighth seed, at 5 p.m., followed by No. 4 seed Lander playing No. 5 Wingate at 7:30 p.m.

Limestone has only one loss as well this season. But Norton said his team is not looking past Carson-Newman.

"This team is different than any other I have ever coached," Norton said. "They do their school work, they practice, they play the games. They don't look past the next step.

"They ask me who are we playing, when and where and what is the scouting report. They have not talked about Limestone or anyone else in the regional."

The semifinals will be played Saturday with the championship game on Monday.

The winner of the regional will advance to the Elite Eight in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Southeast Regional winner will be matched up against the Midwest Regional winner in the Elite Eight round. The Midwest is being hosted by Michigan Tech.

The Elite 8 starts on March 24 with the championship game on March 27.

Notes: CSU is making its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament and eighth overall. Last year, the Lady Cougars lost to North Georgia in the first round. They won the South Atlantic Region in 2000 and 2001 and advanced to the final four both seasons. Michelle Mitchell is leading CSU in scoring with 20.0 points per game. Dee Dee Deshazer is second at 11.0. Tatum Burstrom leads Carson-Newman with 10.4 a game, while Jessica Simerly is second at 10.1. Carson-Newman started 13-1 but went 6-10 since Jan. 13.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493. Follow Kevin on Twitter @lesports and on Facebook at Facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports

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