CHARLESTON, S.C. – Another 20-point performance from senior Afreyea Tolbert and a furious late-game rally was not enough as the College of Charleston women’s basketball team was downed on Thursday evening by the Pirates of East Carolina, 64-55.
The Cougars (7-6) shot an impressive 81% from the free-throw line and forced 18 turnovers against their Conference USA opposition, but came up just short as the Pirates (12-1) rode a 45.7% first half shooting performance to victory in front of a strong crowd of Cougar faithful at TD Arena.
The first half started out evenly as both teams traded baskets on their opening possessions and following a mid-range jumper from Tolbert at the 17:09 mark, the Cougars took an early 8-7 lead.
The Pirates however quickly responded and went up by as many as 14-points in the first half before seeing the deficit cut to just six after a transition lay-up from Tolbert with 3:05 remaining in the opening twenty.
Led by senior point-guard Jill Brown, the Cougars did well to beat the Pirates in transition time and time again, with Alyssa Frye (Chester, Va.), Tolbert and Breanna Bolden (Edgewater, Md.) the primary beneficiaries.
In the second half, the Cougars found baskets more difficult to come by as East Carolina extended their lead to 22-points with 5:14 remaining before the Cougars mounted a courageous comeback.
Led by junior center Mikaela Hopkins (12 points, 8 rebounds), the Cougars held the Pirates scoreless over the final five minutes, closing the gap to just nine points before the final whistle blew.
The loss marks the first defeat on home court this season for the Cougars who came in to the contest with an 11-point average margin of victory at TD Arena through four games this season.
East Carolina was led by Jada Payne’s 26 point, 11 rebound double-double, while Abria Trice also chipped in with 15 points.
Next up for the College is their first conference game as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), on the road, Jan, 9., against the Dragons of Drexel University. The next home contest for the Cougars is a Jan. 12., clash with William and Mary.
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