Sometimes, hustle isn’t enough.
The College of Charleston’s women’s basketball team hustled Appalachian State into 25 turnovers, but the Mountaineers scorched the nets from the field and from the line to knock the Cougars out of the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament, 74-60, in Asheville, N.C., on Saturday.
The Mountaineers shot 49 percent from the field, and made 23 of their 26 free throws, to finally close out the College in a game that was still a two-possession contest with two minutes to play.
“Our ‘want-to’ was there,” first-year head coach Natasha Adair said after the game. “We talk about hustle, rebound and finish. I know we had hustle. I just think we left the rebounding, and the finish, just a little short.”
App State out-rebounded Charleston, 46-36, and no Cougar reached double-figures in rebounds. Far more damaging for Charleston was an ugly 22-for-77 from the field, for 29 percent shooting. Even through the fouls were even at 19 each, App went to the line 10 more times than the Cougars, and made 12 more free throws than Charleston.
“Our season was phenomenal,” Adair said. “They picked us 10th. We finished fifth with a group of girls who have never been here before. No one on this team has ever made it past the first round, and now they have. As with anything, you grow. You aspire to be better. And that’s what we’ll do.”
With her eyes still red after the game, senior Cathryn Hardy looked back on not only the game, but a transformative year for the program.
“Looking back on this season, it was an experience I will never forget. It was amazing,” Hardy said. “The coaches pushed us to a level we’ve never been pushed to before. I am just so impressed with everyone. It was so fun, but it was hard work, for sure.”
Hardy also let slip another piece of information about the season: “We don’t know if it’s over yet.”
Apparently, the program has been contacted by both the Women’s National Invitation Tournament and the Women’s Basketball Invitational, but the Cougars must wait to see if a .500 record in their final SoCon season will be enough to garner a postseason invitation.
After recording only 17 wins over the past two seasons combined, the Cougars finished the regular season at 15-14, only the fourth time that they have reached 15-wins in their 15-year Southern Conference tenure. They also finished 11-9 in the league to earn a bye through the first round of the tournament.
“I wanted this for them,” Adair said. “I know their hearts are heavy right now, but they don’t have anything to be ashamed of. They’ve earned respect from a whole lot of people who didn’t believe they would make it this far.”