UNCP Basketball Squads Battle Columbus State Saturday
PEMBROKE – The UNCP men's and women's basketball teams will continue a four-game Peach Belt Conference road trip on Saturday when they head to Columbus State for a 1:30 p.m. basketball doubleheader in the Lumpkin Center.
The Lady Braves (8-9, 5-4 PBC) suffered their first loss in more than two weeks on Wednesday evening to PBC East rival Augusta State, 59-51, despite DeDe Cotten matching a career-best with 22 points. The Black and Gold shot 42.2 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from the 3-point line, with Cotten nailing all five 3-pointers for UNCP.
The Lady Braves have three players averaging double-digit scoring, including junior Courtney Bolton who leads the Black and Gold with 12.4 points per game. Seniors Domonique Washington and Cotten average 10.2 and 10.1 points per game, respectively, while freshman Jazmine Kemp averages a team-best 5.9 rebounds per game.
Columbus State (10-7, 5-3) captured wins this month over PBC opponents Augusta State, Flagler, Armstrong Atlantic and Georgia College. The Lady Cougars matched a program-low for points scored in the game with Augusta State, but managed to record the 10-point victory regardless. Dominique Gilbert was the offensive hero for Columbus State as she recorded her sixth double-double of the season.
The Lady Cougars have out-scored (+4.9 points/game) out-rebounded (+7.2 rebounds/game) their opponents this season, but are -1.4 in the turnover column. The squad ranks second among PBC leaders with 46.3 rebounds per game, while pacing the league with 30.1 defensive rebounds an outing. Gilbert leads the team in scoring (14.5 points/game) and rebounding (8.7/game), while Shaun Basley posts 9.8 points per game as well.
UNCP and Columbus State will meet for the 29th time on Saturday in a series controlled by the Lady Cougars. Columbus State will bring a 23-5 series advantage into the game, including a three-game winning streak in the series. Last season, UNCP used a 17-1 run in the last six minutes of the game to comeback from a double-digit deficit, but Columbus State held off the rally with seconds remaining in a 57-55 win.
Having dropped consecutive games for the second time this season, the Braves (12-7, 6-3) will look to right their ship and get back into the thick of the race for not only the PBC East crown, but the race for the PBC's regular season title. Slow starts have taken their toll on the Braves in each of the last two games as UNCP has managed an average of just 25 points in the opening half in losses to Georgia College (24) and Augusta State (26). Columbus State (9-8, 4-4) will ride a two-game losing streak into Saturday's tilt with the Braves, but the Cougars have a 5-2 record in the Lumpkin Center this season, including a current three-game home winning streak.
The Cougars will bring one of the league's worst shooting teams in the contest as CSU ranks 12th in scoring (69.2 points/game) and last in field goal percentage (40.7). The Cougars do boast one of the PBC's best offensive rebounding (14.4 offensive rebounds/game) teams, however, and average 8.4 steals and 3.9 blocks an outing as well. No stranger to shots from the perimeter, they also attempt nearly 21 shots per game from beyond the 3-point stripe, but the fruits of their labor have been a rollercoaster ride. CSU has logged at least eight successful 3-point attempts in 2011-12, including a season-best 12 treys against West Alabama, but have shot sub-30 percent from the perimeter nine times this year, including a 0-for-13 mark from downtown in a home win over Armstrong Atlantic.
Senior Steve Peterson has posted a team-best 15.4 points per game this season for the Cougars, with more than half (132 of 262) of his points coming via the 3-point shot. Any one of a myriad of players has the potential to do damage on the scoreboard, however, as CSU possesses six players averaging 9.1 points per game or better. Two of those players – seniors Darius McKnight (9.6 points/game) and Paul Darkwa (9.3) – also average at least 6.8 rebounds a contest. Junior point guard Winford Ivey ranks fourth among league leaders with 4.5 assists per game as well.
Columbus State boasts a 25-5 record in the all-time series with UNCP, but the Braves have captured wins in two of the last three matchups, including last season's 71-69 triumph in Columbus. The Cougars won 11 straight games against the Braves from 1993-99, and then won 13-straight in the series from 2000-08, including a forfeit win in 2008. Both of the series victories for Pembroke since that time have come in the Lumpkin Center.