CHARLESTON, S.C. – Amidst an electric atmosphere, the College of Charleston women’s hoops team showed remarkable toughness Saturday afternoon, claiming a 71-64 victory over the University of South Florida to remain undefeated at home this 2013-14 season.
The Cougars calling card this campaign has been their voracious defensive appetite; Saturday was no different.
Forcing the Bulls to turn the ball over 23 times, the Cougars – who lead the CAA in steals and turnover margin – made life very uncomfortable for USF’s perimeter talent. Switching with ease from man to zone, the Cougars did well to close out shooters, take charges and play strong on the low block, while the Bulls were never able to find a rhythm, shooting 35.7% from the field.
Offensively the College was led by Alyssa Frye’s 21 points and seven rebounds, while fellow senior Afreyea Tolbert (Teaneck, N.J.) chipped in with 13 points and 13 rebounds, her second points/rebounds double-double of the season. Freshman Bre Bolden (Edgewater, Md.) also played well, dropping 15 points and grabbing five rebounds.
South Florida looked to take early control of the game, going up 5-0 in the opening minute, but the Cougars quickly clawed back, going on a 10-0 run capped by a pull-up jumper from Bolden at the 16:15 mark, giving her team a 10-5 lead.
Back to back three-pointers from Erin Hall (Norcross, Ga.) and a transition jumper from Tolbert gave the College their largest lead of the game at 28-18, with 8:26 left in the first half, but the Bull’s fought back and cut the deficit to just one at the halftime break, 32-31.
In a gritty second half that would see seven lead changes, the Cougars showed determination, getting to the charity stripe 18 times, connecting on 14. Leading the charge was Frye who shot seven of eight from the line and Tolbert who pulled down five crucial rebounds.
Also paramount to the Cougars success was the poise of senior floor leader Jill Brown who had another five assists to add to her program record collection of 471 dimes. Brown’s ability to handle the pressure and her propensity for ball security makes the Cougars virtually unpressable and helped to control the tempo of the game throughout an otherwise tense second half.
With the game tied at 64-64 with just 1:55 to play, Alyssa Frye found her way to basket, slicing through the Bull’s extended 2-3 zone to draw a foul. Hitting both free throws, the Cougars took a 66-64 lead and then made two critical defensive stops to see their lead extended to 6, 70-64, with just 26 seconds left in the game. That was all the Cougars would need as another South Florida turnover and a free throw from Tolbert sealed the victory.
South Florida was led on the afternoon by Alisia Jenkins’ 16 points and 17 rebounds while Courtney Williams added 20 points and 11 boards.
Next up for the Cougars is a Dec. 28., showdown with Howard in the first round of the Terrapin Classic, a four-team tournament hosted by the University of Maryland.
•The win marks the Cougars first victory over a member of the newly-formed American Athletic Conference.
• Jill Brown has extended her school record for all-time career assists to 476.
• Alyssa Frye hit another 4 three-pointers on Saturday, bringing herself to within just 19 of the school record for made three pointers.
• The Cougars have won four of five games since Bre Bolden and Christy Hewatt were inserted in to the starting line-up.
• The Cougars attempted 72 shots on Saturday, the fourth time this season they have attempted more than 70 field goals.
• The College had 21 points off of 23 turnovers against the Bulls.
• Coach Adair is now 1-0 against her alma mater as a head coach.
• Saturday’s matchup featured 11 ties and 7 lead changes, the most in both categories for any game the Cougars have played in so far this season.
College of Charleston head coach Natasha Adair
On her team’s 71-64 victory over South Florida…
“Now that I’ve caught my breath…..my emotions are on high. They are on high for these kids and for this program. I can’t single out anyone in particular because this was a team win – it was everyone. Our energy was great, and we left it all out on the floor. We played hard – my hat goes off to them.”
On the Cougars’ home court success this season…
“Our fans are loyal. They give us energy. Looking out in the arena you saw the men’s players watching. You saw faculty and staff. Our fans care. I hope this victory is a nice Christmas gift for them.”
College of Charleston senior guard Afreyea Tolbert
On what it took to win…
“We stepped up today . We were tough. We got the momentum going and I’m proud of the way everyone played. For me, the offense wasn’t coming right off the bat, so I had to find other ways to contribute -- especially on the glass.”
College of Charleston senior guard Alyssa Frye
On playing at TD Arena…
“I’m so proud of my team. We have to protect our home court and we brought the type of energy and toughness that allowed us to do that today over a very good team.”
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