Breanna Bolden dropped 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds to help lead the College of Charleston women’s basketball team past Northern Kentucky on Saturday night at TD Arena, 60-54, in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
The win sees the Cougars advance to the WBI semifinals for the second time in school history, where they are set to host No. 4 seed Stephen F. Austin this Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. The Ladyjacks downed Boise State on Saturday, 80-59 in the west region’s second quarterfinal.
With the win, The College improves to 19-14 overall, the second best single season win mark in the programs division-1 history.
Seniors Alyssa Frye pitched in with 12 points, while all-CAA first team selection Afreyea Tolbert finished with her twelfth double-double of the season, including six critical points over the final five minutes to help seal the victory. Junior Jazz Green also chipped in with six points and a season-high 10 rebounds.
Both teams started well, connecting on 3-of-4 shots to begin the game. Alyssa Frye then brought the Cougar faithful to their feet with a deep three-pointer, giving the Cougars a 13-7 lead with 15:59 left in the first half, but the Norse came right back with a 7-0 run capped off by a Kelly Weigman jumper at the 13:15 mark.
The Cougars responded with a 9-2 run of their own through a three-point play from Green, and a mid-range jumper from reserve Shannon Hines to give The College its largest lead of the game to that point, 22-16, with 8:27 to go in the opening twenty minutes. The two teams then traded blows the rest of the half, with two late free throws from record-breaking senior point guard Jill Brown, reasserting the Cougar six point advantage, 33-27, at the halftime break.
The Cougars put in a tough defensive performance in the first half, holding the Norse to just 27.8% shooting from the field, including 2-of-13 from behind the arc (14.3%).
The second half began much the same way the first half ended, with both teams exchanging baskets. Still leading by five with 12:29 remaining in the game, junior Erin Hall hit a trey from the top of the key before Bolden used a high ball screen on the next possession to create space and knock down a jumper, extending the Cougars lead to 10, 48-38, with just 9:38 to play. Northern Kentucky would steadily claw their way back in to the game, getting as close as six with 1:54 left, following jumper from Christina Roush.
With the game in balance, Tolbert corralled deep rebound off a missed Kayla Thatcher three-pointer and drove the length of the court, finishing in traffic to give the Cougars an eight point lead with just 33 seconds remaining. The gap would prove to be too much to overcome for the Norse, who could get no closer than four the rest of the way. Two free throws from Frye with one second remaining sealed the victory for the Cougars, who now advance to the tournament semifinals.
POST GAME QUOTES:
College of Charleston Head Coach Natasha Adair
On her team’s 60-54 win…
“We just advanced to the final four of the WBI. That is certainly something to be proud of. All the credit in the world to Northern Kentucky, they are a very good team and it just so happens that we have faced them in the last two postseasons. They are well-coached and play with a lot of energy. I’m proud of our team though, we’re in a position to do something special.”
On what this win means for the program as a whole….
“What we’re trying to do is build a winning culture. We are trying to instill a belief in our student-athletes that if they want it bad enough and work hard enough for it – they can achieve greatness.”