Lady Cougars Win Southeast Region Title

COLUMBUS, Ga. — In front of more than 1,700 people, the fourth-ranked and top-seeded Columbus State University women’s basketball team captured the Southeast Region championship with an 86-75 win over 13th-ranked Lincoln Memorial on Monday night. The championship game was played inside the Lumpkin Center.

The victory was the third region championship in program history and the first since 2001. Columbus State (31-1) will now head to Columbus, Ohio for the national quarterfinals to begin Tuesday, March 21.

“I really felt like we finally put together a complete performance from start to finish tonight,” head coach Anita Howard said. “Lincoln Memorial is a great team and has been playing great basketball, but we played well on both ends of the floor.

“We have been checking off goals this season: Peach Belt Conference regular season champs, Peach Belt Conference Tournament champs, Southeast Region champs, and now we can focus on the ultimate goal of a national championship.”

A back-and-forth first quarter saw the Lady Cougars trail by four points early on. Tatiana Wayne dropped in a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 stretch that gave CSU a 15-10 advantage.

As it would most of the night, Lincoln Memorial (28-5) had the answer as it knocked down a 3 of its own late in the quarter that brought the Railsplitters back within two, 17-15, after 10 minutes of play.

Columbus State continued its strong shooting night from the perimeter to start the second as Alexis Carter drained a pair sandwiched around one from Narshanda Malone. The second 3-ball from Carter gave the Lady Cougars their largest lead of the day at 27-20 two minutes into the second.

The lead spread out to as much as nine in the quarter, but LMU hung within striking distance scoring seven of the final 10 points to cut the CSU lead to 38-33 at halftime.

Lincoln Memorial continued to chop away at the lead, getting it down to two midway through the third. However, Columbus State had the answer each and every time.

Leading 51-47, Britteny Tatum connected on her only 3-pointer of the night and the Lady Cougars used it to fuel a 10-3 run to open up their first double-digit lead of the game at 61-50 after three.

LMU refused to go away though, getting the deficit down to six on three different occasions. Up 67-61, Jasmine Herndon grabbed a huge offensive rebound and stuck it back in to stem the Railsplitters’ momentum and CSU pulled away from there.

Columbus State led by as much as 17 coming down the home stretch on their way to the region title.

Alexis Carter ended the regional as the Most Outstanding Player following 25 points, 14 rebounds, six steals and six blocks on Monday night. Ashley Asouzu was 7-of-10 from the floor and finished with 18 points. Keyrra Gillespie added 11 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Asouzu and Gabby Williams were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Lady Cougars shot 42.2 percent (27-of-64) from the field, their highest total of the postseason. CSU knocked down 9-of-24 3-pointers and was 23-for-37 from the free throw line.

Lincoln Memorial ended the game at 35.4 percent (28-for-79) overall and 7-for-24 from outside.

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Columbus State University to Host NCAA Southeast Regional

COLUMBUS, Ga. — For just the second time in program history, the Columbus State University women’s basketball team will host the NCAA regional tournament as the Lady Cougars were selected as the top seed in the Southeast Region Sunday night.

The 2017 NCAA Southeast Regional will be played March 10, 11 and 13 inside the Frank G. Lumpkin Center. Columbus State will play eighth-seeded Anderson at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night.

“We are honored to serve as host for the 2017 NCAA Southeast Regional tournament at the Lumpkin Center,” CSU Director of Athletics Todd Reeser said. “Our women’s basketball team has had an incredible season and now is the time for all of Columbus and CSU to come out and support their efforts. It is our goal to deliver a first-class experience for all fans and participants, as well as to showcase our great community.”

Columbus State earned the No. 1 seed after putting together a 28-1 record and capturing the Peach Belt Conference regular season title. The Lady Cougars added an exclamation point on Sunday with a 76-61 win over Lander in the PBC championship.

“We are excited to be the number one seed in the Southeast Region,” head coach Anita Howard stated. “Getting the top seed and serving as the host is a great reward for all of the hard work and effort our young ladies have put in this season.”

The NCAA Tournament selection is the 10th overall for the Lady Cougars and fourth straight. CSU has gotten to the second round of the tournament in each of the last two seasons.

Seven other teams will join Columbus State in the first women’s basketball regional in Columbus since 2001. Wingate, Lincoln Memorial, Limestone, Lander, Clayton State, King and Anderson make up the rest of the eight-team field.

“I am delighted to hear Columbus State University is hosting the NCAA Women’s Southeast Regional tournament,” Columbus State University President Dr. Chris Markwood added. “Being named a host not only speaks to the excellence of Cougar Athletics, but helps reaffirm the prestige of CSU, and is an economic benefit to the Columbus community.”

Play begins on Friday at noon in the Lumpkin Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for seniors, children and military.

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Women’s Basketball, Cheer Win Peach Belt Conference Championships


GREENWOOD, S.C. – The fourth-ranked Columbus State University women’s basketball team erased an 11-point halftime deficit and took home the Peach Belt Conference tournament title with a 76-61 victory over Lander on Sunday. The championship contest was played inside Horne Arena.

Five Lady Cougars finished in double figures led by Ashley Asouzu’s 16 points. The senior added 10 rebounds as well. Alexis Carter recorded a third straight double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Gabby Williams turned in 14 points, while Britteny Tatum tallied 13. Narshanda Malone came off the bench and scored 12.

Asouzu and Tatum were named to the All-PBC Tournament team, while Carter was the tournament Most Valuable Player.

With the victory, Columbus State earns the PBC’s automatic bid into the upcoming NCAA Southeast Regional.

“Lander dictated the game over the first 20 minutes,” head coach Anita Howard said. “We had a good talk at halftime and came out looking more like ourselves in the third quarter.

“This group has fought really hard this season and this is another step on the journey toward our ultimate goal.”

Behind 29 percent shooting, Columbus State (28-1) trailed 38-27 at the halftime break. The switch flipped starting the third quarter however, and the Lady Cougars stormed back.

Columbus State finished the game at 38.1 percent (24-of-63) from the field. The Lady Cougars were outstanding at the foul line, knocking down 25-of-30 attempts.

Lander was 33.9 percent (19-for-56) from the floor and 9-of-23 from the 3-point line.

The Columbus State University cheerleading program added two more championships to its ledger on Saturday at the annual Peach Belt Conference spirit competition. The competition was held inside Horne Arena at Lander University.

Columbus State took home the top spot in the Co-Ed competition as well as the All-Girl division.

The pair of titles gives the CSU program 19 conference championships under the guidance of head coach Jimbo Davis.

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Howard Tabbed to Lead Lady Cougars

HowardCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University Director of Athletics Todd Reeser introduced Anita Howard as the next head coach of the Lady Cougar basketball program at a press conference Friday morning.

Howard becomes the third head coach in program history, following Jonathan Norton and Jay Sparks.

“I am pleased to attract a rising star in the basketball coaching profession in Anita Howard to lead our highly successful women’s basketball program,” CSU Director of Athletics Todd Reeser said. “Anita brings a passion for people and coaching, and her proven ability to recruit and develop young women for success, on and off the court, makes her the perfect choice to lead our program forward.

“I could not be more excited for the future of Columbus State women’s basketball.”

Howard comes to Columbus State after a pair of winning seasons at NCAA Division II Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. Howard guided the Lady Blue Bears to a 41-14 record achieving a top-five ranking for the first time in program history. In 2014-15, Howard led Livingstone to a 26-2 overall mark, including winning 23 consecutive games to set the longest winning streak in HBCU history.

“I am thrilled to be the new head coach of the Columbus State University women’s basketball program,” Howard said. “I have to thank God, my family, President Markwood and Todd Reeser for allowing me this outstanding opportunity. Columbus State has a long tradition of success and it is my goal to take that success to the next level.

“Columbus State has a great foundation that has been laid by my predecessors and I’m looking forward to the challenge of building upon their successes and leading the Lady Cougars to the ultimate goal of a national championship.”

Before Livingstone, Howard coached at Division III Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C. for two seasons. In her first season, Howard turned around Salem leading the Spirits to a 13-win improvement from the season prior and a 17-11 overall record. She was named the Great South Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for her efforts. Just a year later, Howard won Salem’s first GSAC Championship with a 22-5 record sending the Spirits to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Overall, Howard’s career coaching record is 79-30, a .724 winning percentage, in four seasons.

Prior to her head coaching stints, Howard was an assistant coach at Winston-Salem State University, Shaw University and Saint Augustine’s University. She helped each program find success in her tenure. At Shaw, Howard helped the Lady Bears to a CIAA Championship and a trip to the Division II Final Four in 2010-11. As the associate head coach at Saint Augustine’s, the Lady Falcons became one of the top defensive teams in Division II while she also help to produce the 2012 CIAA Player of the Year. At her first coaching stop at Winston-Salem State, Howard helped the team transition into the Division I game ushering in a new era in their women’s basketball history.

Howard was a stellar player herself in her collegiate days. She played three seasons from 1998-2001 at Fort Valley State willing FVSU to two Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles. She was named the SIAC’s Defensive Player of the Year in all three seasons while also earning a spot on the Dean’s List twice. Howard wrapped up her playing days at fellow Peach Belt Conference school Armstrong State where she continued her success. Howard helped the Pirates to their first ever PBC title in 2003 with a 27-3 record. She graduated from Armstrong Magna Cum Laude in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts design.

Following college, Howard began coaching at the high school and AAU level in Georgia. She took Savannah High School to the school’s first state playoff appearance in 25 years. She served as the head coach of the Peach State Elite travel team, coaching several All-State players.

Howard was born in Montgomery, Ala. and is married to Theo Howard. They have three children – Jason, Thallan and Theo II.

What They’re Saying

“Columbus State has found a winner in Anita Howard. She brings a wealth of coaching experience to the table and I know she will continue to excel and raise the bar just as she has on every step of her head coaching journey leading up to this new position. Anita has a passion for the game, relates well to her student-athletes, and is a competitor. I know she is excited to be back in her home state and I look forward to watching her do great things at Columbus State.” Joni Taylor, University of Georgia head women’s basketball coach

“Anita is a rising star in women’s basketball! Her love and passion for the game is evident when you meet her! She is a great role model and a hardworking coach that will have an instant impact at Columbus State!” MaChelle Joseph, Georgia Tech head women’s basketball coach

“Congratulations to Columbus State University for hiring Anita Howard as its new head women’s basketball coach. I’ve observed unparalleled energy and passion in her leadership. She is a true winner and a great person!” Dwight Howard (no relation), eight-time NBA All-Star

“Columbus State has made an excellent hire in Anita Howard. Anita prides herself on her faith, family, friendships and the future of the young women that she impacts on a daily basis. Anita is a player’s coach! Her knowledge and passion for the game is contagious to all who come in contact with her. Anita is a proven winner and competitor. Her team will play with passion, discipline and a competitive spirit. She is a tireless worker who will continue the winning tradition at Columbus State while embarking on establishing an even bigger winning tradition of her own.” Natasha Adair, Georgetown University head women’s basketball coach

“I am very happy for Anita! She is a great coach looking to make a impact on the student-athlete on and off the court!” Josh Howard (no relation), ten-year NBA veteran

“Congratulations to both Columbus State and Anita Howard on Anita’s recent appointment as Head Women’s Basketball Coach. I have enjoyed getting to know Anita over the last several years with her involvement in our summer camps. She is a fabulous teacher and a rising star full of energy and enthusiasm for this game we all love. The swift turn-around she led at Salem College was remarkable and I am sure the Cougars will benefit from the guidance of this bright young coach immediately.” Jen Hoover, Wake Forest University head women’s basketball coach

“I applaud Columbus State for finding and recognizing what a wonderful coach, mentor, and person Anita Howard is. She has helped Livingstone reach amazing milestones and I know she will do an outstanding job leading the women’s basketball team at Columbus State. You have secured a proven winner and rising star in our profession!” Jackie Carson, Furman University head women’s basketball coach

“Anita Howard is the consummate professional. She is definitely a rising star in the women’s game. Her passion translates into creating a winning culture both on and off the court. I’m excited to see her footprint on the program at Columbus State. You have a true winner on your hands!” Charlotte Smith, Elon University head women’s basketball coach

“I am excited to learn of Coach Howard’s hiring as head basketball coach. Her energy and passion should positively impact Columbus State for years to come.” Matt Doherty, former division I head coach and current NBA scout


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Norton Steps Down as Lady Cougar Head Coach


COLUMBUS, Ga. — After seven seasons at the helm of the program, Columbus State University head women’s basketball coach Jonathan Norton has announced his resignation.

Norton is leaving the Columbus State program to become the Principal of Wynnbrook Christian School and the Chief Administration Officer of Wynnbrook Baptist Church in Columbus.

Columbus State will immediately begin its national search for the next head coach of the Lady Cougars.

“Beyond his highly successful record as the head women’s basketball coach, Jonathan Norton leaves a profound impact on all aspects of the program,” CSU Director of Athletics Todd Reeser said. “His proven ability to recruit, develop, and nurture student-athletes will continue to serve him and young people well as he enters a new and exciting chapter in his life. We are extremely appreciative of all that he has done for Columbus State University.”

“I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of the CSU Cougar family for 16 years, as a student, assistant coach and head coach,” Norton said. “At this point in my career, I feel like I have accomplished way more than I ever dreamed, but the most important accomplishments are the personal relationships I have had the pleasure of developing over the years.

“Now God has called me and my family into a different season in our lives. My priorities in life have always been faith, then family, then basketball. I now have the opportunity to put that faith into action by serving God and my family in much greater capacity. I am forever grateful to CSU for all the opportunities this institution has provided me. CSU is in my DNA. I bleed red, white and blue, and I will always be a Cougar.”

Norton steps down from the Columbus State program with an overall record of 141-61. The Lady Cougars saw tremendous success during his tenure, reaching three straight NCAA Tournaments, twice winning the Peach Belt Conference regular season title and winning two conference tournament championships.

Hired in April of 2009, Norton was just the second head coach of the CSU women’s basketball program. He had previously worked as an assistant coach for five seasons at the start of his career and returned to Columbus after head coaching stops at Berry and Lander.

Columbus State has been the premier women’s basketball program over the last three seasons winning the 2014 and 2015 PBC Tournaments and the regular season crown each of the last two years.
The Lady Cougars matched the program record with 31 wins during the 2014-15 season, while sweeping the league titles. CSU followed it up with a 25-6 record this year with yet another NCAA Tournament appearance.

Norton garnered back-to-back PBC Coach of the Year honors for his work over the last two seasons.

The Columbus State women’s basketball program crossed the 500-win plateau during the 2015-16 season. The Lady Cougars have averaged nearly 19 wins over their first 27 seasons of competition. CSU holds an overall record of 508-292, winning close to 64 percent of its games all-time.


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CSU to Hold Think Pink Weekend at Lumpkin Center

COLUMBUS, GA. – Columbus State University is one of over 900 participating schools nationwide to participate in the ‘Think Pink’ for Breast Cancer Research initiative sponsored by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

The ‘Think Pink’ initiative is a global, unified effort for the WBCA’s nation of coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. The week set aside for this year’s initiative is February 8 – 17, however many teams are participating outside of that window due to scheduling conflicts.

‘The WBCA is very excited to promote an initiative that touches all levels of our membership and unifies them for such a great cause,’ said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. ‘It has been remarkable to watch the support of this initiative grow from 120 teams last year to over 900 teams from a variety for sports for 2008. With the help of each of our members, the women’s basketball community and beyond can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.’

Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the games on both Saturday and Sunday in the Lumpkin Center at CSU hosts Lander and Francis Marion. The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at CSU has also held a bake sale on campus this week and will be having baked goods for sale at the games with proceeds going to breast cancer research.

Games begin at 2 p.m. with women’s contests each day, followed by men’s contests at 4 p.m.

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Lady Cougars Named Preseason Favorites

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Jay Sparks and his Columbus State Lady Cougar basketball team have yet to play a game, but the squad has already earned the respect of other Peach Belt Conference coaches with its pick as the favorite to win the league championship in the annual preseason coaches poll released Friday.

Sparks returns a nucleus of four players from last year’s team, including the three top rebounders, and will also get Karina Pulici, the leading three-point shooter in the 2003-04 season back after she sat out last season with a knee injury. Those players, coupled with what Sparks calls maybe his best recruiting class ever, have expectations high around the CSU program.

Tabasha Taylor (10.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is the leading returning scorer, while Cherwonna Walker (10.1 ppg, 10.1 rgp) and Erin Gibbs (10.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) also return. That nucleus of starters, along with guard Erin Holder and Pulici, give Sparks a great foundation to build from with his group of 10 newcomers. Among that group are seven transfers and three true freshmen.

Heading the list of newcomers is 6’6′ post player LaShonda Allen. Allen last played at the University of North Carolina and has one year of eligibility remaining. Joining her is 6’2′ Marquita Greene, a guard with tremendous athletic ability, out of Gulf Coast Community College. In all, the Lady Cougars will boast their tallest squad ever, with seven players standing 5’11’ or taller.

‘For the first time in a while, we have some significant depth,’ said Sparks. ‘There will be some wonderful battles in practice to see who gets the starting nod.’

Sparks will be replacing top scorer Lucia Heston, as well as the point guard position and he says that as the team prepares for its November 4 opener at the Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic ‘…nothing is set and all positions are up for grabs.’

‘We are much more athletic than we have been the last couple of years. We really have some players that can run the floor and can defend for the full 94 feet. Honestly, it will take us a little while to all get on the same page, but with a commitment from our players and a drive to get better, we will be okay for the long haul,’ Sparks added.

CSU garnered 98 points in the poll, grabbing eight first-place votes. Clayton State was second with 88 points, while Georgia College and State University was third with 73. Armstrong Atlantic State, UNC Pembroke, Augusta State, USC Aiken, Francis Marion, North Georgia, USC Upstate, and Lander round out the poll.

CSU will open the season against traditional Division II power Southern Indiana at Disney and then will face either one of two top-10 teams in North Dakota or Merrimack. The Lady Cougars’ first home game is not until the December 3 PBC clash with Armstrong Atlantic State.

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CSU’s Candace Turner is Georgia’s NCAA Woman of the Year

Indianapolis, IN…Columbus State University’s Candace Turner received an unexpected, yet deserved honor on Friday as the NCAA announced its annual State Winners for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Turner was selected from a pool of nominees as the Georgia state winner for 2003. She will be honored, along with the other winners from all the states plus the District of Columbia at the Woman of the Year dinner in Indianapolis on November 1.

Over 340 student-athletes who completed their eligibility in 2003 were nominated by their institutions. From those nominees, a committee comprised of representatives from member schools selected the state winners. The award honors not only athletic performance, but also academic achievement and community involvement.

Turner, the team captain for the Lady Cougar basketball squad for the past two seasons, graduated in June with a 3.5 GPA in Early Childhood Education. She received the 2003 Charles Eason Leadership Award at CSU and, as a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha sorority, had the highest GPA of any member. In addition to those achievements, she was the team’s leading scorer for the last two seasons and was an All-Peach Belt Conference selection for both of those years. CSU won an amazing 108 games in her four-year career, including two trips to the Division II Elite Eight, two South Atlantic Regional Championships, two PBC regular season titles, two PBC Tournament titles, and earned the school’s first-ever number one ranking during the remarkable 31-1 season of 2000-01. With Turner as a member of the team, CSU never posted less than 21 wins in a season.

‘We are so proud for Candace,’ said CSU head coach Jay Sparks. ‘I can’t think of anyone who deserves an award like this more than her. She has truly been a wonderful ambassador for our program and continues to do so.’

See the full story at CSU’s Cougar Sports Net Web site at

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