COLLEGE PARK, MD. – With 5:06 left in the game and a resilient Howard team down just one point, senior shooting guard Alyssa Frye knocked down a huge three-pointer while junior Christy Hewatt was fouled on the low block to give the Cougars a four-point play and a lead they would not relinquish in front of 3,822 fans Saturday at the Comcast Center.
The gritty 79-68 victory sets up a prime-time 1:30 p.m. Sunday showdown with the No. 8-ranked, 2006 National Champion Maryland Terrapins – who defeated Wofford earlier in the day – in the finale of the Terrapin Classic, a four-team tournament being hosted by the University of Maryland.
Against Howard, the Cougars quickly overcame an early 6-0 deficit to stake a 14-13 lead following a Jenice Winter (Brooklyn, N.Y.) layup with 10:59 to play in the first. After a mid-range jumper from fellow freshman Jasmine Carter (Lexington, N.C.) – who scored a career-high 17 points – and another from senior floor-leader Jill Brown (Midlothian, Va.), the Cougars staked a strong 10 point lead with 5:07 left in the opening twenty minutes.
After extending their lead to as many 14, the Cougars made their way to the halftime locker room up 11 points, 39-28, after a fantastic pick and roll by Brown and junior center Mikaela Hopkins (Augusta, Ga.).
The lead was not insurmountable however as the Bison clawed their way back in to the game midway through the second-half, closing an 8 point deficit with 13:50 left in the game to just one with 10:04 remaining.
Yet the Cougars were not shaken and showed the type of toughness that has seen them win four of their last five games including wins over perennial powers George Mason and South Florida.
Back-to-back sets of free throws for the College– who would shoot 31-41 from the charity stripe on the night – reasserted the Cougar advantage to five points with 7:02 remaining.
Undaunted after consecutive Bison baskets in just an eight second span, the Cougars would once again show they’re resolve and provide the game’s defining moment:
Coming off of a down screen, Alyssa Frye, with just 5:06 remaining, let fly one of her nine three-point attempts while junior Christy Hewatt (Cumming, Ga.) was simultaneously fouled on the low-block. The trey would drop and Hewatt hit one of two at the line to give the Cougars a four-point play, momentum and all the lead they would need to see the game through.
Cementing their efforts, the Cougars hit 7 of 8 free throws in the game’s final 1:24 to walk away winners and set up a Championship bout on Sunday.
• The Cougar bench outscored their counterparts 25-10, led by Jasmine Carter’s career-high 17 points.
• Alyssa Frye shot 11-12 from the line (92%) on Saturday and has connected on 20-22 free throws over the last two games.
• As a team, the Cougars shot 41 free throws against Howard, the third most in program history.
• Alyssa Frye’s 22 points marks her fifth 20+ point performance of the season.
• Frye knocked down another three three-pointers against the Bison, pulling to within 16 of the school’s all-time mark for career three pointers made.
• Jill Brown scored 9 points on Saturday (a season high) and extended her all-time career assists tally to 483.
• For the first time all season, the Cougars held their opponent to zero three-pointers made. Howard shot 0-8 from behind the arc on Saturday.
• The Cougars held Howard’s leading scorer, Te’Shya Heslip – who was averaging 15.1 ppg coming in to Saturday – to just 4 points. Heslip fouled out late in the game.
College of Charleston Head Coach Natasha Adair
On her team’s 79-68 victory…
“We gutted out another team victory. Howard is a tough team with a competitive edge. I thought we came out slow and they capitalized on that. We immediately adjusted, shifted the momentum in our direction and were the more aggressive team down the stretch which allowed us multiple opportunities at the free throw line. We are that team who is finding ways to win and I’m very proud of our resilience. Coming off of Christmas break is always sluggish and I’m glad we got the rust off with a win.”
College of Charleston senior guard Alyssa Frye
On competing as a team…
“This was a great way to come off of the holiday break. We had a slow start but we collected ourselves and pushed back. I thought freshmen Jasmine Carter and Jenice Winter stepped up today. They were physical and made plays. We needed this win and pulled it out. We finished strong at the end.”
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