SALISBURY, N.C. - The Augusta State women's basketball team found out its jinx against Columbus State carries into the postseason.
The Lady Jaguars had a field-goal drought of almost 11 minutes in the first half and tied the game in the second half, but watched the Lady Cougars pull away late for a 68-59 win Friday in the first round of the NCAA Division II women's tournament at Catawba College.
Augusta State (19-10) has lost 15 consecutive games to Columbus State (28-3), dating to the 1995-96 season. The Lady Jaguars lost to Columbus State three times this season - 60-36 on the road and 72-63 at home.
"This is very similar to the last time we've played them," Lady Jaguars coach Greg Wilson said. "We played well enough to win up until the final five or six minutes.
"If you have to end your season, this is where you want to end it. I guess for 99.9 percent of us, it ends like this."
Augusta State, making its first appearance in the Division II Tournament, threatened to pull off the upset midway through the second half. Shundra Johnson drained a 10-foot jumper to knot the game at 40 with 10:55 remaining.
Columbus State made easy layups inside and capitalized from the free-throw line (19-for-22) to jump back out front. After Sabrina Jones made two foul shots to pull the Lady Jaguars within four with 3:54 left in the game, Lucia Heston and Courtney Favors made 3-pointers to end Augusta's season.
"We should have won this game," Augusta State senior forward Arijana Sijercic said. "It was just little things."
It was little things such as turnovers (23) and bad perimeter shooting (3-for-15 from 3-point range) that doomed the Lady Jaguars. Senior forward Sabrina Jones made seven of 11 shots and posted a game-high 24 points, while junior guard Ernesia Wideman made three of six shots for 11 points. The rest of the team went 8-for-37 from the field.
"We knew they were going to double down on the post," Jones said. "This is tournament time. You're not going to have any easy shots."
It didn't appear that way early. A Jones layup with 14:48 left in the first half gave the Lady Jaguars a 12-2 lead. But Augusta State went the next 10 minutes and 40 seconds without a field goal, missing 15 consecutive shots. Christina Pedarre broke the drought with a bank shot with 4:08 left before halftime. Augusta State led 15-14.
"I told my assistant that it's troubling to me when we make shots early, because we don't go to the offensive glass," Wilson said. "We get used to seeing shots go in, and we don't go hard to the glass anymore. ... We got so cold, and it got frustrating, because no one was getting an offensive rebound."
Lady Cougars senior forward Candace Turner scored two of her team-high 16 points on a driving layup at the buzzer to end the half. Columbus State, 8-3 in the Division II tournament, led 19-18 at halftime.
"I'm just glad the first one is over with," Columbus State coach Jay Sparks said. "It's a tough ballgame to play. All of them are tough, but you have to have a game where you get rid of the nerves and kind of get into the flow."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114.