Despite forcing 24 turnovers and holding Delaware to just 32.2% from the field, the College of Charleston women's basketball team fell on Saturday in the semi-finals of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship, 60-52, in front of a great crowd at Show Place Arena.
The College (17-14), picked up the program's first ever CAA Championship win following a 70-64 decision over Towson on Friday in the quarterfinals. On Saturday, however, the Cougars shot just 27.7 percent for the game (18-of-65) and was outrebounded 60-33, as Delaware tied a CAA and school tournament record for total rebounds (60). Delaware shot marginally better with a 32.2 percent effort (19-of-59).
After the tip, Charleston came out firing, scoring the game's first eight points as Tolbert accounted for the first six points alone. The Cougars eventually stretched the lead to 17-6.
The Blue Hens (20-9) utilized a 17-2 run over the next eight minutes to jump ahead, 23-19, following a Jodi Salyer jumper at the 5:57 mark. Despite shooting 22.9 percent (8-35) in the first half, the Cougars entered the break on top, 27-26, thanks in large part to 14 turnovers from the Blue Hens that resulted in 10 CofC points.
The Cougars one-point halftime lead did not last long, as the Cougars lost their advantage for good at the 19:21 mark of the second half, following two free throws from Joy Caracciolo. CofC held within striking distance over the course of the second half, never trailing by more than six until the final 19 seconds. There were a total of four ties in the final 10 minutes.
Despite their shooting struggles, Charleston crept within two, 52-50, with 2:26 left, after Hopkins received a great dime from senior point guard Jill Brown. After each squad traded possessions as the game winded down, UD turned to Kelsey Buchanan with less than one minute to play. Her jumper from the top of the key with 39 seconds remaining pushed the lead to four points and was just enough for the 'Hens, who return to the league's title game for the fourth straight season, where they will take on regular season conference champs, James Madison University.
The Cougars – who were picked to finish seventh in the preseason CAA coaches poll – concluded the regular season in third place with a 9-7 conference record (now 17-14 overall) and will now await their post-season fate on Monday night.
POST GAME QUOTES:
College of Charleston Head Coach Natasha Adair
On her team's 60-52 loss…
"First and foremost, I'm proud of my team. I think we played with energy, and I think we played with heart. We wanted this one. It is disappointing because I think we had it in our hands – we just didn't squeeze hard enough."
On the journey….
"We've come a long way. This is a team that was picked to finish seventh in the preseason coaches' poll. We finished third in the conference and made it to the semifinals of the CAA Championship. It's something our seniors can take pride in. This will be their legacy. We talked about surging in to the CAA – I think we did that."