Cougars Fall in PBC Championship Game to Montevallo
Columbus – Seeking their first Peach Belt Conference Tournament title since 2005, the Columbus State men's basketball team came up just short falling to Montevallo by a score of 70-57 Sunday afternoon in the 2012 PBC Men's Basketball Championship game. It was played in the Lumpkin Center in Columbus, Georgia.
It was UM's first PBC title as they made their second championship game in three years since joining the league. They also receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
The Cougars will wait to hear if they have done enough to get an at-large bid. CSU entered the PBC Tournament as the region's No. 9 seed but defeated the Southeast Region's No. 10 seed (Lander) and the No. 1 seed (USC Aiken) in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, respectively.
There were upsets in both the Conference Carolinas and South Atlantic Conference Tournaments this afternoon which have taken away a pair of bids in the region putting Columbus State on the proverbial "bubble."
Despite playing an overtime game on Friday night and a double overtime contest Saturday, CSU got out of the gates quickly racing out to an 8-2 lead just over two minutes into the contest. Steve Peterson hit two three-pointers and Paul Darkwa hit a jumper on the block as they took their largest lead of the game.
Fatigue quickly settled in as Columbus State didn't make a field goal for the next seven minutes making just three free throws during that span as Montevallo raced out to a 20-11 lead before Mcknight broke the spell with a layup bringing them to within seven with 9:55 remaining in the opening 20 minutes.
Antoine Davis and Travis DeShazior scored 10 of Montevallo's final 16 points of the half to open up a 17-point advantage when Marvin Fitzgerald made a layup with 2:15 to go in the first half.
Columbus State scored the final four points of the half to head into the locker room down 13, 36-23.
As they have done all year, CSU never gave up in the second half and continued to fight making two runs but were unable to get over the hump. Over the next eight minutes, the Cougars inched their way to within six points (45-39) outscoring the Falcons by a 16-9 margin. Peterson led the way scoring six points while Idell Bell capped off the spurt by knocking down a trey at the 11:53 mark making it a 45-39 ballgame.
Montevallo quickly answered the call making it a double digit contest over the next three minutes going up 53-39. They continued to add to their lead eventually taking a game high 18 point advantage with 4:01 remaining in the contest as Fitzgerald converted a conventional three-point play.
Playing for their postseason lives, the Cougars put up one last fight cutting the deficit down to 10 with 1:25 to go. They forced four turnovers over the two and a half minute span with a relentless pressing defense.
Unfortunately for the tournament hosts, D.J. Rivera, the conference's second leading scorer, rose to the occasion knocking down all six free throws over the final minute and a half to ice the contest.
With their performances over the three-game span, Steve Peterson and Darius Mcknight were named to the All-Tournament team. Peterson averaged 19 points a contest including hitting a game-tying three-pointer to force a second overtime and a game-winning shot versus USC Aiken in the semifinals. Mcknight averaged 15.7 ppg and 12.3 rebounds per contest.
CSU shot just 35.8% (19-for-53) from the field including 3-for-16 (18.8%) from long range. They also only went 16-for-28 (57.1%) from the free throw line. Peterson led the way scoring a game high 24 points while Mcknight and Darkwa each added 10 apiece.
D.J. Rivera paced the Falcons netting 22 points including nine from the charity stripe. Davis was only other UM player in double figures netting 15. Montevallo shot a sizzling 51% (25-for-49) from the floor and 50% (6-for-12) from three-point range.
The official announcement of the full tournament field will be made at 10:30 p.m., Sunday night from the association's headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.