January 8, 2011

Cougars Hang on at Buzzer, Top Lady Saints 66-63

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DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia women's basketball team trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half on Saturday afternoon, but rallied in the second half before falling 66-63 to Columbus State University in Peach Belt Conference action in Memorial Hall.

The Lady Saints drop their first game in 42 days, falling to 10-3 overall on the season and back to .500 at 1-1 in the Peach Belt Conference, while Columbus State improves to 8-3 overall and snag their first league victory, moving to 1-1 in the conference.

The Lady Saints took their lone lead of the first half in the opening minute as Sarah Stinson posted up and knocked down a layup to give North Georgia the game's first bucket.

Columbus State quickly responded and imposed their size in the middle to take control, opening up a double-digit lead at the 14:45 mark as Lauren Matheney hit a layup, giving the Cougars a 17-7 advantage.

The Lady Saints continued to struggle on offense as CSU ran away and claimed a 17-point lead with 5:25 remaining in the half, doubling up North Georgia 34-17 on a layup from Carrie Washington.

North Georgia took over from there, going on a 13-2 run to end the half, pulling the Lady Saints to within six at the intermission. Jessica Trice had the final blow, knocking down a three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer, capping the run and cutting the Columbus State lead to 36-30 at the half.

The Cougars came out in the second half and slowly pushed the lead back to double figures, using a jumper from Dominique Gilbert at the 9:38 mark to make it an 11-point CSU lead at 52-41.

Columbus State led by as many as 13 points in the second half before North Georgia made a run down the stretch, heating up from long range and inching back during the final minutes.

Lindsey Moss knocked a pair of free throws with the 1:12 remaining to cut the lead to five, and Trice came through again from long range, draining a three-pointer with 19 seconds remaining to make it a four-point game at 64-60.

After Columbus State's Tandria Milton connected on two free throws with 15 seconds remaining on the clock, Trice stayed hot and side stepped two defenders to find the bottom of the net again, making it a three-point game at 66-63 with just four seconds remaining.

The Lady Saints fouled the ensuing inbounds play, sending Milton to the line again who missed both attempts with Janyce Ealey coming away with the rebound, but North Georgia was unable to get off a final shot in the three-point defeat.

Columbus State's Gilbert led all scorers with 20 points, adding 12 rebounds for a double-double, while Marah Wright added 16 points and a pair of blocks in 29 minutes of action.

A trio of North Georgia players finished in double figures, led by 16 points and 11 rebounds from Moss who finished with a double-double, while Trice added 15 points on a 5-for-6 performance from behind the arc.

Ealey tallied 14 points of her own and finished two rebounds shy of a double-double, and Stinson had just four points, but was a block away from tying the program's all-time mark since entering the NCAA, tallying six blocks in 29 minutes of play.

The Lady Saints return to action next Wednesday evening, welcoming the University of Montevallo to town for a Peach Belt Conference battle. Tip-off against the Falcons is set for 5:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.