CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston women’s basketball overcame an 11 point deficit with just 4:49 to play on Monday night to claim a dramatic, 66-64 victory over Atlantic-10 foe George Mason.
The Cougars (4-3) were led by a record setting performance from senior point-guard Jill Brown (Midlothian, Va.) who dropped seven assists in front of the Cougars' home fans to become the College’s all-time leader in career assists (463). On the receiving end of Brown’s distribution was Afreyea Tolbert (Teaneck, N.J.), who had 21 points and 7 rebounds and Alyssa Frye (Chester, Va.), who went for 20 points on three of six shooting from behind the arc.
The Cougars came out firing on all cylinders in the first half, taking an early 11-1 lead following a deep three pointer from Frye at the 15:51 mark. The Patriots (5-3) settled in to the game, however, quickly closing the gap and following a trey from Taylor Brown, took a commanding 11 point lead, 35-24, with 3:40 left in the half. The Cougars cut the deficit to seven after another bucket from Frye, but a desperation heave at the end of the first half by the vistors somehow found the bottom of the net and the Patriots took a nine point lead to the locker rooms.
The second half was a dogfight, as both teams fought for baskets and dived for loose balls, but as the game ebbed and flowed, the Cougars showed their resiliency and cut the lead to just one with 9:48 to play following a clutch three from Shannon Hines and a steady stream of baskets from Frye and Tolbert.
The undaunted Patriots then went on a 12 -2 run over the next four minutes to extend the gap to 11, following back to back threes by Cierra Strickland and Sandra Ngoie, with 4:59 to play.
Led by preseason second team all-CAA selection, Alyssa Frye, who scored seven consecutive points to cut the deficit to just four, the Cougars mounted another furious comeback.
After a tough finish by freshman Bre Bolden (Edgewater, Md.) and a series of crucial defensive stops by the Cougars, Afreyea Tolbert scored five straight as the Cougars tied the game at 64-64 with 54 seconds remaining.
After a missed three-pointer from Strickland, Tolbert found Christy Hewatt cutting to the basket with just 23 seconds left in the game, and Hewatt battled through contact to score the decisive basket and give the Cougars a lead they would not relinquish, 66-64.
• Hats off to senior point guard Jill Brown who became the school’s all-time leading career assist maker on Monday night. Brown now has 463 dimes, three more than former record holder Tonia Gerty, who played at the College from 2007-2011.
• Alyssa Frye and Afreyea Tolbert combined for 41 points against the Patriots; the highest combined point total for two Cougars this season.
• Senior Afreyea Tolbert had arguably the best performance of any Cougar this season on Monday night, going 9-13 from the field, for a game-high 21 points and pulling 7 rebounds.
• Tolbert came in to tonight averaging almost a double-double at 12.3 ppg and 9.2 rpg.
• For the sixth time this season, the Cougars played at least 12 players, including Shannon Hines, whose second-half three pointer changed the momentum of the game and helped bring the Cougars back to even footing with the Patriots.
• The biggest indicator for the Cougars success this season has been their field goal percentage. In each of the four wins, the Cougars have shot over 35%, in each of their losses, they have shot under 35%. On Monday night, the Cougars shot 40.6%, including an impressive 43.3% second-half display.
• The Cougars came in to the game leading the CAA in steals per game and did nothing to tarnish that statistic tonight, grabbing 15 steals – led by Tolbert (4) – and forcing the Patriots in to 22 total turnovers.
• The Cougars went with the same starting line-up that saw them beat South Carolina State over the weekend. Brown, Frye, Bolden, Tolbert and Hewatt.
• The Cougars are now 3-0 on home court this season.
College of Charleston Head Coach Natasha Adair
On the game…
“We’re resilient, we really are. We talked at halftime about being the tougher team in the second half; it was gut-check time. We could have looked up with four minutes left, down nine, and given up – but we didn’t. We didn’t because that’s not who we are. I couldn’t be more proud of our performance.”
College of Charleston Guard Jill Brown
On breaking the school’s all-time career assist record…
“Assists are a two-way street. You can pass the ball all day long, but if you don’t have shooters that can knock down the shots, then it doesn’t matter much. I’ve been fortunate in my time here in that I’ve always had shooters around me, which in a lot of ways has made my job pretty easy. Tonight it was Free, Alyssa and Bre Bolden – credit goes to them.”
College of Charleston Guard Afreyea Tolbert
On her 21 point, 7 rebound performance…
“It was a great team performance, I’m proud of the way we played tonight. Coach A has been telling us we need to be tough and I think we were just that tonight. On the offensive end, I felt like we were able to do some things that put me in great positions. I’m happy I was able to be successful and help the team.”
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