Trailing 32-22 at the half, the Lady Falcons (17-11) were held to a 3-point basket from Jessica Harper in the final seconds as their only points of the quarter. Harper finished with 17 points and eight rebounds for the Lady Falcons who lost 53-37.
The game swung on Flowery Branch’s inability to keep control of the ball and 21 team turnovers for the game. Ebony Johnson scored six points off of Flowery Branch turnovers in the second half for No. 5 ranked Columbia (24-4).
“Taking care of the ball was our No. 1 issue coming in,” Flowery Branch coach Hazel Hall said. “We just have to learn to value the ball.”
Another key to the game was the inside presence of Columbia’s 6-foot-4 center Akila McDonald. She finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Lady Eagles point guard Zuri Frost scored a game-high 23 points, including six in the first quarter, along with a 3-pointer from Johnson to take a 15-6 lead after the first period.
Columbia built its biggest lead of the night with a layup on a pass inside by Frost early in the second quarter to take a 19-6 lead. Despite the big deficit early, Flowery Branch continued to battle with eight points from Cara Chilton and six points by Cash Champion.
“I’m just glad we didn’t give up,” Harper said. “We couldn’t hold on, but we fought hard.”
With the loss, Flowery Branch’s season is now complete.