ASHEVILLE, N.C. — College of Charleston women’s basketball coach Natasha Adair knew that Saturday’s matchup with Appalachian State would be a game of momentum.
Whichever team had the momentum at the end of the afternoon would probably win the game.
Adair didn’t know how prophetic she would be.
Anna Freeman scored 23 points to lead four players in double figures as Appalachian State defeated the College of Charleston, 74-60, in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference women’s basketball tournament at Kimmel Arena.
In a game that featured big momentum swings, it was the Mountaineers (20-9) that finished with the most decisive run of the afternoon, a 15-4 spurt over the final 6:41 of the game that ultimately was too much for the Cougars (15-15) to overcome.
“We knew it was going to be a game of runs and we knew we had to be mentally tough when they made a run at us,” Adair said. “We answered every run they had, except that last one. I can’t fault our effort, it was there all game. I’m so proud of this group of young women. It was a great basketball game.”
Another huge factor was rebounding. The Mountaineers dominated the boards, outrebounding the Cougars, 46-36.
“There were some key rebounds and some key turnovers that really hurt us,” Adair said. “When we have outrebounded our opponent this season, we’ve usually won. That was a major focus for us coming into this game. Again, it wasn’t for lack of want to. We just didn’t come up with the loose balls when we really needed too.”
The Cougars had the lead just once in the game at 10-9 on Afreyea Tolbert’s layup with 13:15 to play in the opening half.
The Cougars, who trailed 34-28 at halftime, spent most of the game down three-to-eight points, and only once, in the second half, were able to tie the score at 42 on two free throws by Tolbert with 12:12 to play.
But the next five possessions produced only one free throw as the Mountaineers extended their advantage to as many as eight points, 59-51, on Bria Huffman’s jumper with 7:35 to play.
The Cougars made one last run, cutting the gap to 59-56 on a 3-pointer from Alyssa Frye and a short jumper from Jazz Green with 6:41 to play.
The Cougars would not score again for another four minutes.
“We had our chances,” Adair said. “We just had too many empty possessions where we either turned the ball over or we didn’t get a great shot.”
Frye led the Cougars with 12 points, while Latisha Harris added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Bill Sanders/Asheville CITIZEN-TIMES Appalachian State vs College of Charleston in the second round of the women's Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville. Charleston guard Afreyea Tolbert grabs a rebound.×
Bill Sanders/Asheville CITIZEN-TIMES Appalachian State vs College of Charleston in the second round of the women's Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville. Charleston forward Cathryn Hardy protects the ball for Appalachian State's Anna Freeman.×