February 4, 2012

Lady Saints Rally Late, Edge Columbus State 65-62

Contact: Steve Cunha, sjcunh2033@northgeorgia.edu

COLUMBUS, GA - The North Georgia women's basketball team rallied late on Saturday afternoon to score a 65-62 come from behind victory over Columbus State in Peach Belt Conference play at the Lumpkin Center.

The Lady Saints (11-9, 5-6 PBC) won their first road conference game in nearly a month, outscoring the Cougars (12-8, 7-4) 10-3 over the final six minutes of the game, while holding them scoreless over the last four minutes. 

North Georgia played arguably their best defense of the season in the second half, holding the Cougars to 27 percent shooting from the field and forcing seven turnovers.

The game was back and forth from the opening tip as the two squads traded baskets over the first five minutes of the game. Crystal Moore knocked down a jumper with 9:28 remaining to knot the game at 17 and the Cougars responded by going on a 5-0 run capped by a layup by Dominique Gilbert with 8:11 remaining. 

The five-point lead would be the largest lead of the half for Columbus State, but as they have done all season the Lady Saints responded with a 14-2 run over the next five minutes capped by a layup from sophomore standout Jaymee Carnes. The run would give North Georgia a seven point advantage, the largest lead for either team in the opening half.

With just under a minute remaining in the opening half Kari McCann knocked down a trey to give the Lady Saints a 34-32 lead and they would take the two point edge into the break. 

The second half started right where the first left off with the in-state rivals grinding out possessions and trading buckets.

Neither team could steal the momentum away from the other with the largest lead for either team being just four points in the second half. 

Gilbert gave the Cougars a 59-55 edge with just over six minutes remaining when she grabbed an offensive board and put it back. This would prove to be the turning point as Columbus State would score just one more field goal down the stretch.

On back-to-back possessions Carnes made a pair of free throws and made a layup to tie the game at 59. From there the Lady Saints defense stood strong, forcing three turnovers over the final two and a half minutes. 

After stealing the ball with four seconds remaining, freshman Stephanie Huffman knocked down one of two free throws to stretch the lead to 65-62 and the last second three point attempt by Shan Basley would come up short as North Georgia escaped with their 5th conference win of the year.

Carnes paced the Lady Saints offensively as she has done all season registering her 15th double-double of the year scoring a game-high 24 points and pulling down 10 boards.

Huffman played her best game of the season, scoring 20 points while adding six boards and three assists. 

The loss snapped a three-game conference winning streak for the Cougars who were led by Gilbert who poured in 18 points and a game-high 13 boards. Marina DeFoor score 15 points off the bench, knocking down 5 of her 7 shots from the field.

The Lady Saints return to the hardwood on Tuesday, February 7, when they host Montevallo. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. as North Georgia's Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) will be hosting a "Blue Out" in Memorial Hall with the first 100 receiving  a free blue t-shirt.