Columbus State University

Anita Howard era begins for Columbus State on the road

Columbus State University women’s basketball coach Anita Howard.
Columbus State University women’s basketball coach Anita Howard. Columbus State

When the Columbus State women’s basketball team takes the floor Friday night, it will begin the Anita Howard era.

Howard is just the third coach in the program’s history. She was hired after Jonathan Norton retired just after the end of the last season.

CSU is playing in the Peach Belt Conferernce/SIAC Challenge at Fort Valley State. CSU will play Albany State on Friday at 8 p.m. then Fort Valley on Saturday at 2 p.m.

“The girls have worked extremely hard in the preseason and are ready to get the season started,” Howard said. “Albany State and Fort Valley State are talented teams and should present a good challenge for us.”

Howard is taking over a program that has had plenty of success. Norton led the Lady Cougars to three straight NCAA appearances from 2014-16.

And while the Lady Cougars return three starters from last year, they don’t return Michelle Mitchell, one of — if not the best — player in the program’s history.

Mitchell was a two-time All-America who averaged better than 20 points a game for her career.

The Lady Cougars do return Ashley Asouzu (10.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game), Britteny Tatum (10.3 points and 2.2 assists) and Gabby Williams (8.8 points and 3.1 assists).

CSU played one exhibition game, routing Agnes Scott 89-33 last Saturday. Alexis Carter led CSU with 13 points as all 13 CSU players got playing time.

This will be the 21st meeting between the two schools with CSU holding a 13-7 lead in the series.

Albany State enters the game at 0-2 after it lost to Valdosta State and West Florida last weekend.

Kevin Price: 706-320-4493, @lesports