Three players scored in double figures led by junior Alyssa Frye, who scored 20 points and made six three-pointers as the College of Charleston women's basketball team beat Northern Kentucky 72-70 in the first round of the Women's Basketball Invitational on Wednesday.
With the victory the Cougars (16-15), who are the five seed in the tournament and Northern Kentucky was the four seed, advance to the second round where they will play the winner of Detroit and Belmont, who square off tomorrow at 7:00 p.m.
With her six three-pointers, Frye tied the Southern Conference single season record for threes made in a season at 92. Senior Cathryn Hardy tied the Cougars DI record for offensive rebounds at 114.
Junior Afreyea Tolbert had 16 points and senior Latisha Harris added 14 points and seven rebounds. Junior Jillian Brown had nine assists as she moved into fifth on the SoCon single season record list and now has 197 assists this season.
The first half went back and forth and Northern Kentucky (15-13) led by as many as six points at 16-10 with 13:09 to play in the first half. The Cougars responded with a 15-7 run over the next six minutes to go up 25-23 and had a 33-32 lead at halftime.
The Cougars held Northern Kentucky scoreless for the first four minutes to start the second half as they used a 14-2 run to go up 13 at 47-34 with 14:34 left in the game.
Northern Kentucky would not go down without a fight as they cut the Cougar lead to three at 63-60 with 3:39 to go in the game.
A Harris basket and two Tolbert free-throws put CofC up 67-60, but Northern Kentucky converted a three-pointer and another jumper to get back to 67-65 with 1:57 to play.
The Cougars and Norse traded three-pointers and Brown made a free-throw to put the Cougars up 71-68 with 31 seconds remaining. Northern Kentucky made two free-throws to get to within one at 71-70 and Brown was fouled on the next Cougar possession.
Brown made one of two from the free-throw line and the Cougars got a stop on the last Northern Kentucky possession to secure the 72-70 victory.
POST GAME QUOTES
COFC HEAD COACH NATASHA ADAIR
On the win
"The name of the game is survive and advance right now. To go on the road and play a very tough Northern Kentucky team, our girls did a phenomenal job adjusting throughout the game. It was a game of highs and a game of runs. We made plays down the stretch to win. I told them postseason games are ugly because neither team wants to lose. I'm thrilled that Cathryn Hardy and Latisha Harris get to play another game. We have gutted out wins through the regular season, so I don't think we got as rattled down the stretch. I couldn't be prouder of our girls. They fought and they did it together."
On coming out strong in the second half
"We talked at halftime and I thought they out hustled us in the first half. The way we play, we want to out hustle you, get more rebounds and finish. We talked about what we need to do to play like we can play. We do well when we pressure. I thought coming out of the locker room we really turned up the defensive intensity."
On finishing the game when Northern Kentucky made a run
"We talk about winning the game and we practice scenarios at the end of the game. We refocused and when it is winning time, it was a hostile atmosphere as Northern Kentucky had a great crowd, but our kids really focused at the end. It wasn't perfect, but we made enough plays to win the game."