Playing at Columbus State, Shorter rallied from a 24-point second half margin before falling 74-70 to the Lady Cougars.
“The first 11-plus minutes of the first half, we were fine,” said Shorter head coach Vic Mitchell. “It was the last eight-plus minutes that did us in. We missed some shots and we let it affect our defense.
“We gave up too many easy transition baskets and offensive rebounds. I’m proud of the way we competed in the second half. We just have to take that second half and build on it.”
Shorter (0-1) scored the first six points of the game was still up 20-18 with 9:53 to go in the first half.
after a layup by former Model standout Shelby Farrer, but that was when the bottom fell out for the Lady Hawks.
Columbus State (1-0) - which is coached by former Berry head coach Jonathan Norton - went on a 25-2 run to close out the half, including scoring the last 19 points, to take a 43-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Lady Cougars - who went 16-11 in the Peach Belt Conference last year - only shot 50 percent (17-for-34) in the first half, but they made six of their 11 3-point shots (54.5 percent). Meanwhile, Shorter made just nine of its 32 shots (28.1 percent) and only 3-of-15 on its 3-pointers (20 percent).
“Columbus State shot the 3-pointer well and when teams are doing that, it’s hard to come back,” Mitchell said. “Columbus State played hard and executed well, but we really were able to come back and do better in the second half.”
The margin grew to as much as 24 points at 48-24 following two free throws by Asha Alexander with 18:47 to go, but the Lady Hawks started to chip away, going on an 11-1 run to close to within 52-40 after a Kristin Nash layup with 13:47 remaining.
Shorter had three chances to cut the Lady Cougars’ lead to single digits before a traditional three-point play by Lindsey Crawford got the Lady Hawks back to within 65-57 with 5:14 still to go in the game. Crawford’s three-point play capped off another 8-0 burst by the Lady Hawks.
Ex-Coosa standout Ieshia Alexander made a layup with 3:42 remaining to close the gap to 65-60 before Columbus State seemingly took control with a pair of baskets to go up 69-60. However, Karisma Boykin nailed a pair of 3-pointers to make it 69-66 with 1:26 showing on the clock.
A free throw by Asha Alexander re-established a four-point lead for the Lady Cougars at 70-66, but Boykin made another layup and the Lady Hawks stayed close, trailing 70-68 with 56 seconds left. Columbus State missed a shot, but got its own rebound and the Lady Cougars’ Tae Smith was fouled with 18 seconds to go. She made both free throws and the score was 72-68, but Farrer hit another shot to keep things interesting at 72-70 with seven seconds remaining.
However, following a Shorter timeout, the Lady Cougars were able to inbounds the ball and Smith was fouled again. She stepped to the line and calmly sank both free throws to give Columbus State a 74-70 lead and the hard-fought win.
“People can talk about how we lost nine seniors off last year’s team and 11 of our 14 players are brand new,” said Mitchell. “But the season’s here now. The time’s come for us not to make the kind of mistakes we made tonight and the team knows that. They were upset with how they played during that stretch in the first half and if they’re upset, that shows they’re growing. We have some time off now and we’ve got some practices to work on some things and hopefully we can carry our performance in the second half forward.”
Boykin finished with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting (4-of-9 from 3-point range) with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Harris had 14 points - going 6-of-10 from the field - and pulled down eight rebounds, while Nash added 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Columbus State was led by Smith, who had 15 points. Tandria Milton chipped in 12 points and Chatil Bradford pitched in 11 for the Lady Cougars in the win. For the game, Columbus State made 11 of its 19 3-pointers (57.9 percent), while hitting only 14 of its 49 2-point shots (28.6 percent).
Shorter is now off until Nov. 26, when the Lady Hawks host Clark Atlanta. Tipoff at the Winthrop-King Centre is set for 6 p.m.