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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.