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Charleston surges past Oran

Friday, February 6, 2009

CHARLESTON -- It was all Charleston in the second half.

With a tight game at the end of the first half, the post play of freshman Kasuela Cooper freshman and senior Kariah Simpson proved too much for the visiting Oran Lady Eagles as they helped the Lady Bluejays to a 68-51 victory.

"This was an incredible win for us," Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. "We did a real good job in the second half. We controlled the tempo of the game and we dictated what we wanted to do."

With Cooper and Simpson dominating the post, Charleston rallied to a 42-33 lead at the end of the third quarter and eventually pulled away for good in the fourth quarter.

Simpson scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half alone while Cooper finished with a game-high 23 points and 15 rebounds.

"Kariah (Simpson) and Kasuela (Cooper) played their tails off," Minner said. "We knew we could get it in the high-post tonight and we got it to Kariah in the second half. I've been waiting to see that girl (Simpson) for four years."

The first half saw the Lady Eagles go on a 11-2 scoring run to take a 13-12 lead at the beginning of the second quarter. Four lead changes later, Charleston struck last when Cedrica Rodgers sank a layup at the end of the half to give her team a 26-24 advantage.

Oran did make a push for the lead in the fourth quarter. They got as close as six points at one point with the 3-point shooting of Kirstie Mangels leading the way.

Mangels hit a total of five 3-pointers in the game with three of them coming in the fourth quarter. But, everytime Mangels and her Eagles made a push, Simpson answered.

Simpson hit three consecutive buckets for the Lady Bluejays just as Mangels began her hot shooting.

Jerquawnda Sherrell made her presence felt with a crucial 3-pointer of her own and 6-out-of-7 shooting from the free throw line down the stretch. She ended the game with 17 points and four steals.

Charleston finished 15-25 from the free throw line.

"If we continue to do things offensively like we did tonight, the sky's the limit," said Minner.

Oran was led by Mangels' 20 points in a contest that Oran head coach Adam Friga said was won on the boards.

"They wanted the basketball more than we did and they beat us," Friga said. "We struggled from the free throw line and we did a poor job of blocking out."

Oran was out-rebounded 32-18.

"They came out ready to play a little bit more than we was," Friga said. "We just got sluggish at times. We just didn't play real well."

Taylor Irwin chipped in with seven points for Oran while Cheyanne King added six.