In the last local sporting event of 2012, the Charleston Southern and College of Charleston women’s basketball teams will play today in a 1 p.m. tip at the CSU Field House.

Both teams enter the contest playing well. Charleston Southern has won two straight to improve to 5-4 on the season, while the Cougars are 5-5, having won three of their last four games.

The game offers an interesting coaching matchup with CSU coach Fred Applin and College of Charleston Coach Natasha Adair are longtime friends and coaching associates. The pair were members of the staff at Wake Forest from 2004-07 and have remained close over the years. Each is in their first season as head coach of their respective programs.

“We go way back and our families are still very close,” said Applin. “It is a bit ironic that we ended up in the same city as head coaches in the same year. I know we enjoy competing against each other. It’s hard to compete against a friend, but it’s our job. We both want to win the game.”

Charleston Southern has played the last seven games without its leading scorer, guard Rachelle Coward, who averaged 22 points per game in the first two games before suffering a hand injury. Coward is on the mend and could see limited action in today’s game.

In her absence, Applin has seen senior forward Lakeitha Alston and junior guard Erin Bratcher step up as the leaders. Alston is averaging 14.7 points per game, while Bratcher averages 12.6 points per game.

“We try to preach the mentality that when someone goes down, another steps up, and we have had a lot of players step up and provide some quality minutes,” said Applin.

College of Charleston has already picked up two early Southern Conference wins and is coming off an impressive 82-74 win over Richmond on Friday night. Four players reached double figures in scoring, led by Megan Fischer’s 18 points.

Junior point guard Jillian Brown averages 6.5 assists per game, which ranks 12th in the country among NCAA Division I players. Guard Alyssa Frye is the team’s leading scorer at 12.6 points per game and ranks ninth in the country with 3.25 made 3-pointers per game.

“They play with great effort and they are obviously well-coached,” says Applin of the Cougars. “I think people will see a lot of similarities between the two teams. Both teams get after it hard. It should be a great game to watch.”

College of Charleston leads the overall series, 44-10, but CSU has won the last two meetings, including a 64-45 win last year.

This will be the second time in three years the teams have met on New Year’s Eve.