Cougars Look to Stay Hot in Weekend PBC Action
COLUMBUS- The Columbus State men's basketball team looks to continue its hot play of late this weekend when it squares off against UNC Pembroke and Francis Marion in Peach Belt Conference action. The Cougars will face UNC Pembroke on Saturday and Francis Marion on Sunday. Both games will tip-off at 3:30 pm inside the Lumpkin Center.
CSU enters the weekend with an overall record of 5-6 and 1-1 mark inside the Peach Belt. The Cougars are 4-3 at home so far this season. In their most recent action, Columbus State took down North Georgia in overtime 66-64 on January 8th. It was the first road win of the year for the Cougars and also their first PBC victory.
Against North Georgia, CSU battled for the majority of the first half, gaining their first lead at 15-14 with just over eight minutes to play in the first frame. Both teams struggled to create any separation and CSU took a 29-27 lead into the break.
The second half was much of the same for Columbus State. The Cougars were unable to secure the game over the final five minutes of regulation as they committed two turnovers, missed a pair of free throws and jump shots. Robby Goldsmith made two pressured free throws tying the game at 58-58 and sending it into overtime.
The Cougars would hold on in overtime as Elijah Smith had a chance to tie the game again with four seconds left but only made one of his two free throw attempts making it a 65-64 contest. Donta Ridley grabbed the rebound and also just made 1-of-2 at the line with two seconds left in the overtime period. A desperation three-pointer as the clock expired missed as the Cougars pulled out the thrilling 66-64 victory.
Mcknight led the way for CSU scoring a game high 20 points and grabbing a game high 12 rebounds. Darkwa and Williams also hit double figures, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively. As a team, they shot just 39% from the field and 51.7% (15-for-29) from the free throw line but held North Georgia to an even worse 34.5% (19-for-55) from the floor.
Columbus State has won two straight games and three of its last four heading into this weekend.
In Saturday's matchup, CSU will take UNC Pembroke who comes into the game with a record of 10-3 and 3-2 in PBC play on the season. In their last game, the Braves defeated Lander 81-66 on January 12th. They enter the contest riding a two game winning streak, and are winners of four of their last five.
The UNCP offense is currently ranked third in the conference at 81.8 points per game and features four players who average over 10 points per game, led by Shahmel Brackett. Brackett comes in at 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, respectively. Other key players to watch for the Braves are George Blakeney (12.5 ppg), Chris Hargrove (11.0 ppg) and K.J Cooper (10.5 ppg). They average 42.8 rebounds per game which leads the PBC. Blakeney leads the team grabbing 6.2 boards per night and has 81 rebounds so far.
The Braves have been stout defensively and rank second in the conference in defensive field goal percentage, limiting the opposition to just 39 percent shooting through 13 games.
Columbus State won the only meeting between the two teams last year, taking down UNCP 73-63 on the road. The Cougars have dominated the all-time series, holding a 25-4 advantage.
On Sunday,CSU will face off against Francis Marion (9-3, 3-2). The Patriots come to town featuring the top offense in the PBC at over 86 points per game. FMU will take on Georgia Southwestern on Saturday before traveling to Columbus State for Sunday's contest.
Offensively, Francis Marion leads the conference in both three-point field goal percentage (.400) and three-pointers made per game (8.0). They have connected on 96 treys so far, which is second only to Clayton State (97).
The Patriots are 1-2 away from home this year but have won four of their last five games. Junior forward Liki Turner leads the way pouring in 16.3 points and grabbing 7.6 rebounds per game. Turner has connected on over 55 percent of his field goal attempts.
Assisting Turner are Simel Boyd (13.5 ppg), Evrik Gary (13.8 ppg), and Dominique Coleman (10.0 ppg). Boyd leads the team in rebounds at 8.2 per night and has grabbed 98 on the season.
Columbus State looks to avenge a 65-62 loss to FMU last season in the only meeting between the two schools. The Cougars lead the all-time series 21-13.
Live stats and a live webcast will be available for both games this weekend via csucougars.com.