Braves Erase 16-Point Deficit, Fall In Final Minute At Columbus State
COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State matched a pair of season highs with 52 percent shooting from the field and a dozen 3-pointers, but nearly let a 16-point second half lead get away before swatting away a late rally by UNCP en route to a 79-76 victory over the Braves on Saturday in the Lumpkin Center.
The setback extended the losing streak for UNCP (12-8, 6-4 PBC) out to a season-long three games, while also giving the Braves their first consecutive road losses for the second time this season as well. The triumph helped Columbus State (10-8, 5-4) snap a two-game league losing skid, as well as extend its home win streak out to four games.
Shahmel Brackett scored a team-best 21 points to lead UNCP, who also got 12 points apiece from Marcus Heath and Ben Jacobs. Steve Peterson tallied a game-high 22 points to lead four Columbus State players with double-figure scoring days. Jamarquis Steverson registered 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Cougars, while Idell Bell and Winford Ivey each added 12 points. The quartet combined for all of CSU's perimeter scoring (12-for-22) in the game as well.
The Braves used a 12-3 run in the opening minutes of the second period to whittle a 44-33 halftime deficit down to just five points with 16 minutes to play, but Columbus State used a handful of jumpers, as well as a handful of empty possessions by the Black & Gold, to extend its advantage back out to 16 points four minutes later. The Braves, again, answered with an 11-0 run to pull to within five points for the second time in the half, but the Cougars bled just two minutes in regaining a 12-point advantage, 70-58, on Steverson's layup with 7:40 remaining.
Trailing by 11 points, 73-62, following Paul Darkwa's dunk with 5:11 showing on the clock, the Braves would offer one last push that, inevitably, would tie the score at 76 apiece with a minute left. A pair of free throws by Ivey with 33 seconds left would give the Cougars the final lead of the game, while Darius McKnight's block on the other end of the court ensured the outcome.
UNCP scored eight of the game's first nine points, but the momentum quickly turned as the hosts embarked on a 22-4 run over the next six minutes to open up an 11-point advantage, 23-12, with 8:48 left before the break. The Cougars would eventually pad that advantage out to 17 points, 44-27, on a Peterson jumper just more than seven minutes later, but the Braves scored the last six points of the half to go into the locker room with just a 10-point deficit.
The Braves will continue their three-game road trip on Sunday when they make the short trip to Americus, Ga., to go head-to-head with preseason PBC favorite Georgia Southwestern (11-6, 2-6) in the Storm Dome. Tip off has been slated for 3:30 p.m.