Columbus, Ga. -- Columbus State's Monique Jefferson hit one of two free-throws with 16 seconds left to put her team up 65-62 at the Lumpkin Center on Wednesday, and then had a chance to put the game away with two free-throws five seconds later. She could not convert but Lady Cougar fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief when Georgia Southwestern's Brittany Reynolds' try at a tying three-pointer was off the mark, giving the Lady Cougars their 16th win of the year.
CSU, now 16-10 overall and 10-6 in the PBC, will close the regular season on Saturday at Montevallo. The Lady Cougars remain a game in back of second-place Clayton State in the PBC West Division going into Saturday's game. The Lakers defeated North Georgia 71-63 on Wednesday. Should CSU win and Clayton State lose on Saturday the two teams would be tied and would go to the tie-break system to determine the number two seed for the PBC Tournament. Either way, the two teams will face each other on Tuesday in the first round at the site of the higher seed.
CSU struggled offensively in the second half, managing to connect on only nine of 30 field goal tries. The Hurricanes also hit only nine field goals, but had eight fewer looks and committed 12 costly turnovers.
The Lady Cougars trailed 41-40 after Whitley Wiltz hit a free-throw for GSW with 16:59 left. Neither team would score for almost four minutes before Turelle Jones broke the ice with a three-pointer to put CSU in front 43-41. That shot started a 9-0 run and gave the Lady Cougars a 49-41 lead with 11:34 left after Kelsey Weynand put a bookend on the run with a trey of her own.
The Hurricanes answered right back, scoring the next seven points to cut the lead to 49-48 on a three-point play by Wiltz. GSW would go on toe regain the lead and wend up 56-53 on a Jessica Bivins jumper with 6:50 remaining. CSU finally pulled ahead by two with 4:18 left on a Turelle Jones free-throw, but the Hurricanes knotted the score at 62 16 seconds later as Wiltz converted a layup.
Phebe Smith broke the tie with a pair of free-throws with 41 seconds left and Jefferson hit her toss with 16 seconds left to wrap up the scoring. GSW did not score for the final 4:03 of the game.
Smith finished with 18 points for CSU to lead all scorers in the game. She was held to eight rebounds on the night, but CSU still managed a 44-37 advantage on the glass. Jefferson added 16 points and Ashley Stafford came off the bench to score 12. CSU ended the game shooting 37 percent.
Wiltz led the Hurricanes (12-14, 7-9) with 17 points, while Kanita Holloway added 13. Nadirah Gardner led all rebounders in the game with 12. GSW shot 42 percent in the game from the floor but went just 12-22 at the free-throw line.
The Lady Cougars wrap up the season on the road with tip-off time set for 2:30 p.m. in Montevallo, Ala.