UPPER MARLBORO, MD. – After falling behind early, the College of Charleston women’s basketball team (11-19) mustered a big second-half comeback to vanquish the UNCW Seahawks (7-23) 72-61 and advance to a second-round matchup with the No. 1 seeded James Madison Dukes (24-5).
Breanna Bolden was undoubtedly the player of the game for the Cougars, stuffing the stat-sheet with a season-high 25 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. While the Cougars went down by as many as 11, Bolden was crucial in keeping the College afloat, with 16 of her points coming in the first half.
“Bre was key,” head coach Candice M. Jackson said. “She fueled our defense and gave us energy, and it was great to see the rest of the team respond to what she was doing. For her to come in and do the little things like getting rebounds and creating deflections, it was huge.”
The junior tallied a bit of history as well. Her two-steal effort brings her season total to 88, which surpasses her own CofC Division I Record of 87 that she set just last season.
Freshman guard Darien Huff submitted a perfect night on offense, hitting all five of her free-throw attempts, which included a pair of three-pointers. She would finish with 12 points, adding three boards and a pair of assists. Jackie Luna-Castro accounted for six points, eight boards and two blocks.
The Cougars began their comeback shortly after halftime, slowly but surely working their way back into it and reducing the deficit. After Kelsey Booth tied the game 44-44 on a jumper with 3:15 left in the third, Dajah Logan hit a jumper and a three inside a 35 second span to give CofC their first lead of the game. Logan would finish the contest with career-bests in both scoring (15) and blocks (two), adding eight rebounds. The College meanwhile finished the quarter up one at 51-50.
The fourth quarter began with the Cougars carrying their momentum over. The College would rip off a 16-4 run over a five-minute span, which pushed the CofC lead to 65-54 with just under six minutes to play.
UNCW’s Amber Reeves fouled out early in the fourth, forcing head coach Adell Harris into a five-player rotation for the final eight minutes with her bench expended. To the Seahawks’ credit, they mounted a gutsy comeback by way of a 7-0 run, reducing the gap to 65-62 with 92 seconds remaining. But the intentional fouling game didn’t go their way, as the Cougars hit their free throws to pull off the eventual win.
“I thought we put together a very good second half,” Jackson said, “I’m proud of our team for going out there and making the adjustments that we needed to make. I also want to give credit to UNCW for playing a very competitive game. We were inspired by how hard they played with the numbers they have.”
As a team, the College won the battle of the boards 43-37, but ultimately won the day by way of superior shooting from the field, as CofC shot 48.1% compared to UNCW’s 28.8%. Individually, the Seahawks enjoyed a 19-point night from Shatia Cole in her final collegiate game, as well as a seven point, 16 rebound, three steal performance from Jordan Henry.
With the win, the Cougars advance to the next round of the tournament, which slates them against the No. 1 seeded James Madison Dukes. JMU’s phenomenal season earned them a variety of CAA honors, which included Kenny Brooks being named Coach of the Year, Jazmon Gwathmey earning Player of the Year honors, and Kayla Cooper-Williams taking home Rookie of the Year accolades. The Dukes beat the College in both their meetings this season, winning by 22 in Harrisonburg and by 30 in Charleston.
Tipoff is scheduled for tomorrow at noon at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.