Cardiac Cougars Pull Stunning Comeback
SOURCE: CSU ATHLETICS
Trailing by 19 points in the second half and 15 points entering the fourth quarter, the Columbus State University women’s basketball team pulled a stunning comeback to defeat Flagler 71-68 in overtime Wednesday night. The Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal took place in Saint Augustine, Florida.
Tatiana Wayne led all scorers in the game with 29 points including four from behind the arc, while Taya Gibson had a monster performance down low chipping in a career high 14 points and 17 rebounds.
“This was one of the wildest games I’ve been a part of here at CSU but I couldn’t be more proud of the effort from our team tonight,” said head coach Anita Howard. That’s Lady Cougar basketball right there, never giving up. Gibson was incredible, Wayne was a warrior, it took the whole team to believe and we never gave up and showed just how hard it is to put us down for the count.”
CSU trailed 51-36 entering the fourth quarter and had looked dead in the water being down the entire game on the road. But the resiliency of the Lady Cougars showed off in a big way in the fourth quarter as they battled hard to continually cut at the deficit.
After trading buckets in the early going of the fourth quarter, a jumper by Flagler with 4:00 remaining put them up 61-50 heading into the final media timeout. That’s when CSU made their late push to silence the Saints crowd down the stretch.
Four free throws would go in for the Lady Cougars along with their defense stepping up and forcing four straight misses to make it a 61-54 game with 1:53 left. Wayne, who had been battling cramps late in the fourth quarter came up big draining a three pointer to make it 61-57 with 1:32 left, giving her 26 points at the time.
Flagler would miss two free throws and Columbus State would run an elevator screen the next time down the court freeing up Tatum Jarvis for a wide open three at the top of the key, her only made bucket of the night. Down by just one, CSU would steal the inbounds pass but two missed layups and a foul sent Flagler to the line where they extended their lead to 63-60 with just :23 seconds on the clock.
Coming out of the timeout Kaihla Carter would drain her only three pointer of the night, but it came in the biggest moment of the game for CSU as they tied it with just :20 seconds to go in regulation. Two more missed free throws by Flagler gave CSU a chance to win it in regulation but a missed jumper at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.
Having trailed the entire game, Columbus State would get their first lead of the night on a free throw by Gibson to open up the overtime period. A free throw by Flagler would tie it at 64 and the two teams traded turnovers before Flagler jumped back in front by two on a layup with 3:10 left.
Wayne continued to warrior it out on the court, as she and rose up from the right wing for another three, giving her 29 points before collapsing with more cramps. The senior would have to be subbed out but not before she gave the Lady Cougars the lead back at 67-66 with 2:17 left.
With :17 left the Saints would tie the game at the free throw line, but once again giving the Lady Cougars a chance to win the game. This time around, CSU would deliver and put the finishing touches on the incredible comeback.
Carter launched a three with five seconds remaining that went of the mark but Gibson grabbed another critical offensive rebound for the Lady Cougars. The loose ball eventually found its way into the hands of Jurnee Smith, who threw it up as the buzzer and whistles sounded, going off the glass for two and the foul. The referees put 0.4 back on the clock but Smith went to the line and drilled the free throw to give CSU the three-point lead and the upset win.
Columbus State shot 30.0 percent (30-for-80) from the field while hitting 7-of-21 from behind the arc.
The Lady Cougars will advance to the semifinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament in Augusta to take on second-seeded Lander on Saturday, March 9. Tipoff is schedule for 2:30 p.m.