PEMBROKE, NC – Behind 28 points from Tournament MVP and a stifling defense, the Columbus State Cougars won their second consecutive PBC women's basketball Tournament Championship 63-51 over Georgia College on Sunday. With the win the Cougars earn the PBC's automatic bid to next week's NCAA Tournament and become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Lander in 2008 and 09.
Columbus State set the tone early, jumping out to an 8-3 lead. Mitchell, the PBC co-Player of the Year and first-team All-Conference selection, scored eight of CSU's first 12 points. Georgia College answered, cutting the lead to 12-9 before CSU responded with an 11-2 run that opened up a 23-14 lead.
CSU scored one-third of their first-half points from the free throw line, hitting 12 of 15. The Cougars' Carrie Washington, the PBC Defensive Player of the Year, had nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks in the first 20 minutes as GC struggled from the floor, shooting 38%. CSU held a 38-24 lead at halftime.
The Cougars turned up the defensive intensity to begin the second half, holding Georgia College without a point for the first 8:06 of the period. Washington again was the difference in the post with five rebounds and two more blocks during the run. Washington did find foul trouble and fouled out with 4:35 to play.
Down 21 with 8:26 to play, Georgia College made a run that cut the lead down to 11. Dee Dee Deshazer got things started with one of the three GC three-pointers, followed by a jumper from Alyah McGriff and free throws from Shanteona Keys. Keys became GC's all-time leading scorer during her final game.
A free throw from Enisha Donley cut the lead to 10 with 57 seconds to go, but the Cougars were too good at the free throw line late, hitting six of nine free throws to put the game away.
Mitchell hit half of her 18 shots from the floor and all 10 of her free throw attempts for 28 points. She added six rebounds, four steals and four assists. Washington finished the contest with 14 rebounds, five blocks, four steals and six points while Brittney Tatum scored 12 with two boards.
GC was led by Keys' 17 points. The senior hit nine of 12 free throws and was the only Bobcat in double figures. Lindsey Reed came off the bench with nine. GC as team shot 30% for the game and 58% from the foul line.
Columbus State will learn their NCAA Tournament opponent tonight with the selection show beginning at 10 pm.
PBC Women's Basketball
Stephanie Huffman, North Georgia
Larice Walker, Georgia College
Shanteona Keys, Georgia College
Carrie Washington, Columbus State
Tournament Most Valuable Player
Michelle Mitchell, Columbus State