The Columbus State women's basketball team had no problems dispatching Montevallo on Wednesday night in a 76-57 win over the Lady Falcons at the Lumpkin Center. It continues the school and conference record streak of home wins, now at 29 straight.
Both teams started a little sluggish, however. The scoreboard remained blank until Ashley Asouzu's jumper nearly three minutes into the game put the Lady Cougars up 2-0 and gave CSU a lead it would not relinquish. Montevallo didn't crack the scoreboard until 4:57 left in the opening quarter.
"I thought we looked like we were on cruise control and too comfortable," CSU coach Jonathan Norton said.
"I was a little frustrated with the lack of energy. I think we thought it was going to be easy. Our cuts weren't as hard and crisp as they should be, our passes weren't on target, and then we said 'Oh wow, we're going to have to compete.'
"I've always challenged them to play to the best of their ability. I don't care what the score is or who the opponent is."
The Lady Cougars were 2 for 11 at one point in the first quarter from the field but quickly locked in, going on to hit 11 of their next 18 shots in the first half.
"Making shots cures a lot of ills," said Norton.
Columbus State came out firing in the second half, outscoring the Lady Falcons 27-13 in the third quarter before the Lady Cougars emptied their bench, giving the starters rest and bench players key experience against a divisional rival.
The Lady Cougars also dominated the glass against the Lady Falcons. CSU outrebounded Montevallo 35-24 overall and a whopping 12-3 on the offensive boards.
"We did a nice job on the boards at their place, so we felt like that was an advantage," Norton said. "Our post players are quicker to the ball, and then Michelle (Mitchell) and Gabby (Williams) crash the boards really hard as guards. To get those extra points and extra possessions, that kind of got us going."
The Lady Cougars (20-4, 14-3 Peach Belt Conference) remain tied with Clayton State in the Western Division. Clayton State won at Georgia College on Wednesday night. Both teams are in a three-way tie for the overall conference lead with Lander, which beat Armstrong State on Wednesday. Augusta dropped its game at Francis Marion Wednesday night to go to 13-4 in the Peach Belt, one game behind Lander in the Eastern Division. Lander and Augusta face each other on Saturday, while Clayton State hosts Young Harris and the Lady Cougars face North Georgia at the Lumpkin Center.
CSU travels to Clayton State on Feb. 24 in a game that could have huge implications for the division and overall conference championships.
Before that, however, CSU faces a North Georgia team, which beat the Lady Cougars in overtime on Jan. 13 in a game that saw Norton taken to the hospital after collapsing on the court in the fourth quarter.
"We're not even focused on next week. We're focused on Saturday because we know we'll have our hands full with North Georgia," Norton said. "All we talked about in the locker room is that Saturday is a home game against a team that beat us in overtime at their place. We told them we don't lose to the same team twice and we don't lose at home. We have to take care of business to put us in the position to play for the regular season championship."
Meanwhile, Norton had a chance to reflect on the ongoing home-winning streak for his Lady Cougars.
"It's huge," Norton said. "It's just fun, because I think our home crowd gets it. It's entertaining to come and watch us play. They expect us to win, and I think our players have confidence playing in our gym in front of our home crowd. Hopefully, we keep it going, not just Saturday, but for the conference tournament as well."
UNIV. OF MONTEVALLO (7-17, 4-13 PBC)
Dunstan, Ashley 3-9 3-4 11; Thompson, Jacquelyn 5-8 0-0 10; Foster, D'Miyah 1-2 4-4 6; Christian, RayVon 2-2 2-2 6; Mckenzie, Courtney 2-4 1-2 5; Tarailo, Katija 2-3 0-0 4; Smith, Morgan 1-3 2-2 4; Goldsby, Katherine 1-5 1-2 3; Thomas, Jasmine 1-2 0-0 2; Pharr, Tori 1-2 0-2 2; Green, Jerrisa 0-1 2-2 2; Colson, Katie 1-2 0-0 2; Stubblefield, J. 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 15-20 57.
COLUMBUS STATE (20-4, 14-3 PBC)
Britteny Tatum 5-9 2-2 15; Michelle Mitchell 5-14 3-3 13; Ashley Asouzu 6-11 1-1 13; Erin Morrow 3-5 0-0 9; Gabby Williams 3-9 2-2 8; Ashley Johnson 3-5 1-2 7; Brea Walker 2-3 0-0 5; Kristian Carter 1-1 0-0 2; Eryn Cochran 0-2 2-2 2; Alexys Woods 1-2 0-0 2; Tatiana Wayne 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-63 11-12 76.
Montevallo 10 17 13 17--57
Columbus State 15 19 27 15--76
3-point goals--Univ. of Montevallo 2-8 (Dunstan, Ashley 2-4; Thompson, Jacquelyn 0-3; Smith, Morgan 0-1), Columbus State 7-15 (Erin Morrow 3-3; Britteny Tatum 3-6; Brea Walker 1-2; Gabby Williams 0-1; Eryn Cochran 0-1; Tatiana Wayne 0-1; Michelle Mitchell 0-1). Fouled out--Univ. of Montevallo-None, Columbus State-None. Rebounds--Univ. of Montevallo 24 (Smith, Morgan 4; Foster, D'Miyah 4), Columbus State 35 (Michelle Mitchell 9). Assists--Univ. of Montevallo 11 (Stubblefield, J. 4), Columbus State 14 (Gabby Williams 3). Total fouls--Univ. of Montevallo 15, Columbus State 14.
Technical fouls--Univ. of Montevallo-None, Columbus State-None. A-297