LIVINGSTON, AL - Darius McKnight scored the game-winning basket with six seconds left and Columbus State forced two difficult shots in the closing seconds to hold on for an exciting 68-66 non-conference win over West Alabama on Wednesday night.
With the victory, CSU improves to 3-1 while UWA falls to 1-6 on the year.
"This was a great win for this team," stated head coach Robert Moore. "It was a rough first half committing so many turnovers, but our guys stuck together and gutted this one out."
"Darius had an outstanding game for us tonight. He has the opportunity to get a double-double for us every night and today he showed his entire skill set."
In a matchup that was back and forth all night long, the final six minutes of the game were the most thrilling as there were seven lead changes and two times when the score was knotted.
With Columbus State ahead by two points, West Alabama scored four straight points capped off by a Ryan Fitch jumper with 5:47 to go in the contest to put the hosts ahead 56-55.
Three lead changes over the next 59 seconds saw CSU re-take the lead, 60-58, as Steve Peterson hit his fourth three-pointer of the game giving the Cougars the lead momentarily with 4:48 remaining.
Fitch delivered again for UWA as his jump shot with 3:59 remaining in regulation put them ahead once again, but Peterson showed his willingness to take the big shot knocking down his fifth trifecta of the contest giving Columbus State a 63-60 edge twenty-five seconds later.
Jared Woolfolk stepped up this time for the Tigers netting consecutive baskets for West Alabama over the next two minutes to put them ahead 64-63 with 1:08 to go.
Coming out of a timeout, CSU ran through their set play and found Winford Ivey open for a three-pointer as the Columbus native drilled the Cougars third consecutive three-point bucket and giving the visitors a 66-64 edge with 27 second left on the clock. The possession was setup by Idell Bell who drew a charge giving CSU the ball back.
On UWA's next offensive possession, Phillip Morris was fouled and the junior knocked down both free throws knotting the game for the final time at 66 all.
Ivey received the in-bound pass and dribbled up court before finding Mcknight wide open for the game-winning layup. The rust of a 10-day layoff was evident for the Cougars as they shot under 35% (9-for-26) from the floor in the first half including a 4-for-12 performance from three point range.
The second half was a different story as they shot a sizzling 53.6% (15-for-28) from the field and an impressive 5-for-9 (55.6%) from beyond the arc.
Darius Mcknight led the way for CSU posting a game high 24 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Steve Peterson added 17 points including five three pointers. Idell Bell chipped in with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field. Dimitri Davis, who made his first collegiate start, played a career high 25 minutes that saw him net five points and pull down the second highest board total in the game, eight.
For the game, Columbus State was 24-for-54 (44.4%) from the field and 9-for-21 (42.9%) from three-point range. They were out-rebounded by UWA 40-36.
Jared Woolfolk paced the Tigers with 18 points while Ryan Fitch (14 points) and Phillip Morris (12 points) also hit double figures. Darrion Booker grabbed a team high seven rebounds.