Columbus, GA – December 10, 2005 – Columbus State withstood several charges by visiting West Georgia in the second half here Saturday, holding on for a 74-65 non-conference win. The victory was the 300th in the 16-plus year career of Jay Sparks at CSU – the man who started the program in 1989. CSU moves to 6-4 on the season, while West Georgia is now 5-4.
The two teams swapped the lead five times in the game’s first 10 minutes before Erica Jones hit a three-pointer to give the Lady Cougars a 15-12 lead with 9:28 left. That started a 9-0 run for CSU, capped by back-to-back treys from Paige Howard, to give CSU a 21-12 advantage with 8:20 left. West Georgia cut the margin to 25-21 after a Kim Bass jumper at the 3:57 mark, but a Karina Pulici three-pointer started another 9-0 spurt for CSU, capped by Cherwonna Walker’s layup with 1:02 left to make it 34-21. CSU would lead 34-26 at the break after UWG scored the final five points of the half.
CSU kept the Braves at arm’s length for the first 10 minutes of the second half, leading by as many as 11 points, but never by less than seven. A Yvonne Killings free-throw with 9:39 to play cut the margin to just 53-47, and another by Natasha Liggins just less than a minute later cut the margin to five. Howard hit a big trey with 6:21 to play – her only field goal of the second half – to push the lead back to 58-50. CSU then took its biggest lead with 3:18 remaining on a Pulici trey to make it 66-53. That shot capped an overall 11-3 run which effectively put the game away for the Lady Cougars. West Georgia could get no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Howard led CSU with 20 points and was 6-11 from long range, while Erin Gibbs added 15 points to go with five rebounds. Gibbs hit a free-throw with 15:55 left to give her 1000 points in her CSU career. Her total of 1010 points puts her tied for fifth on the all-time list with Courtney Favors.
Tai Ellis led the Braves with 26 points on 9-23 shooting. Liggins added 12 and Doville Gulbinaite posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
West Georgia returns to action Tuesday at home vs. Miles. The Braves then close out their pre-Christmas schedule with a Saturday ngiht home game vs. Delta State.