Cougars Hold Off Late Rally, Defeat North Georgia 76-64
Columbus – The Columbus State University men's basketball team built a 17-point halftime lead over North Georgia and never relinquished the advantage as the Cougars won another home Peach Belt Conference game 76-64 over NGA Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars are now 12-8 on the season and 7-4 inside the PBC while the Saints drop to 8-14 overall and 3-8 in league play.
CSU is a perfect 7-0 inside the Lumpkin Center against conference foes this season.
The Saints scored on their opening possession as Scott Windom grabbed an offensive board and layed it back in to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. That advantage was the only time in the game that the Cougars trailed as CSU quickly went on an 11-3 run to grab the lead with 16:13 showing on the clock.
Four different players scored during the spurt with Paul Darkwa leading the way with four points.
Windom kept the Saints in the game scoring the next seven points for NGA cutting the CSU lead down to one (13-12) with 13:38 left in the opening 20 minutes.
Columbus State wasted no time extending the lead back to nine points going as they went on a 10-2 run over the next four minutes and 28 seconds to grab a 23-14 advantage. Jarmarquis Steverson fueled the run scoring six points while Winford Ivey scored the remaining four.
The Saints cut the lead down to six twice before the Cougars outscored their in-state rivals 15-7 over the final 6:51 of the opening half. Steverson had his touch working from beyond the arc as he made two three-pointers during that span as CSU headed into the break leading 42-25.
North Georgia looked like they were going to make a comeback out of the locker rooms scoring five of the first six points of the second half to lower the Cougar lead to 13 (43-30) with just under three minutes off the clock.
From there, neither team would put together a sustained run as the lead would net get any higher than 18 or lower than 15 points until the 11:27 mark.
Like most games this season, Columbus State made things interesting as the Saints strung together a 12-2 run to get to within eight of the Cougars with 8:41 left in the game. Six different players scored during the spurt for NGA.
After a lay-up by Darius Mcknight, the Saints continued chipping away at the lead cutting in to a single possession game (62-59) as Windom finished off a three-point play by connecting on a free throw.
Up by five with 3:20 to play, Steverson put his team on his back as the senior connected from downtown in back-to-back possessions to stretch the lead to 70-61 with 1:32 on the clock.
The Cougars iced the game going 6-of-8 from the line to hold on for the victory and to keep pace with Montevallo atop the Peach Belt Conference Western Division.
Steverson scored a game high 21 points going 7-for-12 from the field including an impressive 5-for-6 from three-point range. Winford Ivey (11 pts.), Paul Darkwa (10 pts.) and Darius Mcknight (10 pts.) all scored in double figures for CSU. Ivey also dished out six assists for the Cougars.
Johnathan Murphy was active on the glass for Columbus State as brought in a game high nine rebounds.
As a team, CSU shot 50.9 percent (28-for-55) from the floor and made 7-of-15 three-point shot attempts.
Windom paced North Georgia's attack scoring 17 points while Victor Holder netted in 11 for the Saints. NGA only connected on four of their 15 shots from downtown on the way to a 36.8 shooting percentage.
Columbus State will just have one day to prepare for yet another crucial Peach Belt Conference match-up as they travel to Americus, GA on Monday, Feburary 6 to face off against Georgia Southwestern. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.