CHARLESTON S.C. – The College of Charleston women’s basketball team downed the defending WNIT champion Dragons of Drexel University on Friday night in front of their home faithful at TD Arena, 71-65.
Led by senior Afreyea Tolbert (Teaneck, N.J.), who notched her eighth double-double of the season, and another stellar performance from junior center Mikaela Hopkins (Augusta, Ga.), the Cougars (12-10, 5-4 CAA) won the battle on the glass and proved efficient from charity stripe en route to claiming their seventh home victory of the season.
In the first half, the Cougars came out firing on all cylinders, asserting their pace and locking down the Dragons (10-11, 5-3 CAA) defensively. Following a deep trey from junior sharp-shooter Erin Hall (Norcross, Ga.) and a mid-range transition jumper from freshman Jasmine Carter (Lexington, N.C.), the Cougars ran out to an impressive 20-5 advantage at the 8:15 mark of the first half.
After going down by as many as 20 points with 2:15 to play, Drexel began to fight their way back in to the game, rounding out the opening stanza with back to back jumpers – closing the gap to 15, 33-18.
The second half brought more parity, as the Dragons decreased the deficit to just seven points following a three-pointer from sophomore Rachel Pearson. However, The College showed poise in front of their home fans, reasserting a 13 point lead following two free-throws from Tolbert, who shot 10 of 12 from the line on the evening.
As the clock continued to tick, Drexel looked to press and trap the Cougars in the full court, yet the College again showed its collective cool, knocking down 17 second half free-throws. Despite launching 21 second-half three-pointers, Drexel could climb no closer than six, before freshman combo-guard Bre Bolden (Edgewater, Md.), put the game on ice after knocking down three of four free-throws in the closing moments to secure the 71-65 Cougar win.
Drexel was led in scoring on the night by Pearson, who went for a game-high 21 points.
Next up for the College is another crucial CAA matchup at TD Arena, this time against the Huskies of Northeastern University, with tip-off set for 2 p.m.
• Friday’s win marks the third victory this season for the Cougars on home court over a 2012-13 post-season participant. The College already dispatched of South Florida and Delaware who both competed in last season’s NCAA tournament.
• Mikaela Hopkins continued her recent hot streak, dropping her first double double of the season, scoring 14 points and pulling down 10 boards.
• Afreyea Tolbert grabbed her eighth double-double of the year against the Dragons. It is also the ninth game in which she’s managed 10+ rebounds.
• The College is now 7-3 at home on the season.
• The Cougars attempted 30 free throws on Friday, the third time this season they have shot 30 or more. Drexel’s four free-throws is the lowest attempts by a Cougar opponent all season.
• Alyssa Frye was honored prior to the game as the College’s all-time leader in three-pointers made.
• Breanna Bolden’s 20 points marks a career high for the freshman guard.
• Alyssa Frye and Jill Brown are the only two players to have started all 22 games this season for the College.
POST GAME QUOTES:
College of Charleston head coach Natasha Adair
On her teams 71-65 win…
“Going in to the game we talked about pace and asserting our style of play. I think the girls came out of the locker room and did exactly that. At their place earlier in the year, they controlled the tempo, but tonight we got up and down the floor and had some players really step up. I’m proud of the way we competed tonight.”
College of Charleston junior center Mikaela Hopkins
On her recent string of strong performances…
“I don’t think it’s necessarily what I’m doing so much as it’s what my teammates are doing. They are finding me in good positions and I’m just happy to be able to help.”
College of Charleston freshman guard Bre Bolden
On acclimating to play at the collegiate level…
“It’s been a bit nerve-wracking, but I’m getting used to it as we go. I feel like tonight I found my rhythm and was able to shoot the ball with confidence. The older players on this team – like Jill (Brown) and “Free” (Afreyea Tolbert), have really helped me grow as a player.”
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