By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Lady Colonels (5-3) jumped out to a 10-0 lead and led throughout, but had to withstand a late Jackson State (2-5) rally to post a 64-56 win in the championship game of the Comfort Suites Invitational Saturday.
Senior Alex Jones was named MVP of the tournament after having double-doubles in both tournament games. Jones had season highs in both points (15) and rebounds (14) against Jackson State. Senior Raechele Gray was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
EKU led by as many as 18 points at 36-18 when senior Brittany Coles hit a three pointer to open the second half. From that point, the Lady Tigers began to chip away at the lead and after outscoring the Lady Colonels 18-5, pulled to within three at 53-50 with 5:24 left in the game.
But Gray hit back-to-back three pointers to push the lead back to nine. Following two free throws by Anna Hardy-Fuller, Gray drained another three, her fourth of the game, to give the Lady Colonels a 10-point lead and they hung on from there.
Coles led the way with a game-high 17 points, followed by fellow seniors Alex Jones with 15 points and 14 rebounds and Gray who collected 14 points and five assists.
EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said she was pleased with the win and the effort she got from her team.
“It's a W and we'll take it. Five games in nine days, its been tough for us, but our team kept battling and we finished and I'm pleased right now with where we are,” Roberts said. “Now we have a ways to go, but I know that this team will continue to work hard and continue to stay focused, because this team is hungry.”
Jones scored 13 points and pulled down nine of her rebounds in the first half when the Lady Colonels needed them most.
Leading scorer and rebounder Jade Barber and freshman Miranda Maples both went to the bench with their second fouls just three minutes into the game.
With Barber on the bench, Jones took control of the game, scoring six points to propel the Lady Colonels on an 11-0 run to close the half.
“Alex stepped up. She’s an all-conference performer and she’s relaxed and playing with some confidence and that is what we need,” Roberts said.
The Lady Colonels once again had several players — LaRa’e Allen, Shelly Harper, Pilar Walker, Alexus Cooper and Jasmine Henshaw — come off the bench and play big minutes off the bench. That group scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds to help offset the loss of Barber and Maples.
“I’ve said this all year. We are a pretty balanced team,” Roberts said. “We had some of our freshmen come off the bench in Miranda and even Jasmine Henshaw played some minutes. Whether it two minutes or ten minutes, you’ve got to put your best foot forward and we did that tonight.”
The Lady Colonels shot 35.4 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from behind the three point line. They were outrebounded 56-40.
Jackson State was held to 25.7 percent from the field and only 15.4 percent from behind the arc.
The Lady Colonels will be looking for their first road win when they take on Ohio University at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 in Athens.
By Bob Flynn
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