CHARLESTON, S.C. – Riding a dominant first half performance and a 27 point outing from second-team preseason All-CAA selection Alyssa Frye, the College of Charleston women’s basketball team ran rampant in their season opener at TD Arena, claiming a 87-66 victory over the Owls of Kennesaw State.
The Cougars came out guns blazing in the opening half shooting a sensational 51.3% from the field. Led by Frye, who had eight at the break, as well as fellow senior Afreyea Tolbert who also tallied eight points and five rebounds in the opening half, the Cougars headed to the locker room with a 47-27 lead. In a testament to the depth of this year’s team, the College outscored the Owls 20-2 in bench points and played 12 different players.
In the second half, it was an impressive defensive display that proved the difference, forcing the Owls in to a poor shooting performance (33.9% on the night) via wide-ranging defensive approaches.
“We played man, we played zone, we pressed, we trapped, we did whatever we could to keep them off balance,” said head coach Natasha Adair. “I’m proud of the way our team reacted to different game situations. They played hard and did exactly what was asked of them.”
Kennesaw State proved resilient however, and cut the lead to nine with 5:34 to play, but could get no closer, as the Owls couldn’t find a way to slow down Frye who caught fire in the second half, scoring 19 of her game-high 27 points.
“I had it going there in the second-half,” said Frye. “I felt confident and Jill (Brown) kept finding me. She did a great job of putting me in positive positions, where I was able to do some damage.”
Brown – who was 13th in the NCAA in assists per game last season – finished the night with 11 dimes, rarely leaving the floor and providing the type of leadership that Coach Adair expects out of her senior class.
“When times get tough, these seniors step up,” said Adair. “Their will to win is contagious. Every time they got close, one of our senior stepped up and made a play. That’s going to be a big advantage for us this season.”
Another senior who shined bright under the lights of TD Arena was Afreyea Tolbert. Tolbert’s athleticism and ability to get to the basket caused problems for the Kennesaw State defense all night. She finished the game with a double-double, 10 points and 14 rebounds.
QUALITY DEPTH PROVES DIFFERENCE MAKER
With twelve different players seeing action, the Cougars were able to wear out the Owls with quick rotations, varying defensive schemes and constant energy on both ends of the floor. The Cougar bench outscored the Owls 30-4 and combined for 29 rebounds. Nine different players scored on the night, including five off the bench.
FRYE SETS NETS ALIGHT
Last season Frye hit a SoCon record 95 three-pointers, good enough for 15th on the NCAA list, as well as a place on the second team preseason all-conference squad. Tonight, in the first game of her senior campaign, she only enhanced her reputation by knocking down another ten shots, including five treys in a performance that was equal parts efficient (10-14 from the field) as well as spectacular (19 second-half points). With Kennesaw State desperately trying to claw their way back in to the game, it was Frye’s 11 points over the final 5:26 that secured the victory.
Along with Frye (27 points), Jill Brown (11 assists) and Afreyea Tolbert (double-double, 14 points and 10 rebounds), fellow seniors Diedre Ramer and Brittany Johnson also played well in limited minutes. Ramer, who started the game at the five, provided physicality for a team in need of rebounding prowess, and Johnson proved capable in her back-up point guard role.
COACH ADAIR’S THOUGHTS
“It’s a great way to start the season,” said Adair. “We won the game and that’s the most important thing, but when I look at how we won it, it makes me very proud. This was a team performance and at the end of the day, everyone holds each other accountable to do the right thing. I’m very proud of their fight and their energy; they came to play. Alyssa was great tonight; she stepped up when she had to and knocked down some big shots. We also scored thirty bench points tonight, so again, at the end of the day, if we’re going to win games, we’re going to do it together – as a team.”
UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS
Next up for the College is a Sunday show-down with Winthrop University at the Winthrop Coliseum, in Rock Hill, S.C, with tip-off set for 2 p.m.
CONNECTING WITH THE COUGARS
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