College of Charleston guard Alyssa Frye scored 20 points and Afreyea Tolbert added 16 points to lead the Cougars women’s basketball team past Northern Kentucky, 72-70, on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament.
With the victory, Charleston (16-15) the Cougars will take on the winner of Detroit-Belmont game in the second round.
The two teams traded baskets to start the game as Northern Kentucky (15-13) led by as many as six points, 16-10, on Ellen Holter’s 3-pointer midway through the first half.
The Cougars responded with a 15-7 run over the next six minutes to grab a 25-23 lead and had a 33-32 lead at halftime.
The Cougars held Northern Kentucky scoreless for the first four minutes to start the second half as they used a 14-2 run to go up 47-34 on Tolbert’s layup with 14:34 left in the game.
But Northern Kentucky would answer with a run of their own and cut the Cougar lead to 63-60 on Kayla Thacker’s jumper with 3:39 left to play.
Charleston’s Latisha Harris, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, scored a layup and two Tolbert free throws pushed the Cougars advantage to 67-60 with 2:48 to play.
But Thacker connected on a 3-pointer and another short jumper to close to gap to 67-65 with 1:57 to play.
The Cougars and Norse traded 3-pointers and Jillian Brown made a free throw to put the Cougars up 71-68 with 31 seconds to play.
“The name of the game is survive and advance right now,” said College of Charleston coach Natasha Adair. “To go on the road and play a very tough Northern Kentucky team, our girls did a phenomenal job adjusting throughout the game. It was a game of highs and a game of runs. We made plays down the stretch to win.
“I told them postseason games are ugly because neither team wants to lose. I’m thrilled that Cathryn Hardy and Latisha Harris get to play another game. We have gutted out wins through the regular season, so I don’t think we got as rattled down the stretch. I couldn’t be prouder of our girls. They fought and they did it together.”