Cougars earn first conference road victory

AMERICUS, Ga. – The Columbus State Cougars beat Peach Belt Conference rival Georgia Southwestern 64-55 Monday night to take a half-game lead in the PBC West Division standings.  CSU improves to 13-8 on the year and 8-4 in conference action while the Hurricanes fall to 12-9 this season and 3-9 in league play.

The win in Americus was also the team's first conference road win of the season.

Down by a point after Georgia Southwestern scored their first four points of the contest at the free throw line, Darius Mcknight made back-to-back buckets for Columbus State to take the lead (7-4) which they would not relinquish for the rest of the ballgame. 

Ahead 10-8 with 14:26 remaining in the first half, Steve Peterson connected on a pair of three-pointers and Paul Darkwa chipped in with five points to spur the Cougars on a 13-3 run to push their lead to 12 with 7:25 left in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Georgia Southwestern slowly crept back into the contest over the remaining portion of the half as they brought their deficit down to eight points heading into the locker room, 29-21.

To begin the second half, the Hurricanes outscored CSU 9-4 in the opening 3:20 to cut their disadvantage down to three, 33-30.  Jamon Hawkins scored five of their nine points during that span.

The Cougars quickly responded netting eight of the next 10 points to push their lead back up to nine with just over 13 minutes remaining in the ballgame.

GSW countered one last time over the next three minutes bringing themselves to within three points, 47-44 with 10:38 left in the game but as they did all game, Columbus State was there to answer back with another run, this one a 10-2 spurt over the next 3:21 to push their lead to double digits, 57-46 with 7:17 showing on the clock.

The hosts would not get any closer than six points the remainder of the game as Columbus State held Georgia Southwestern to just two field goals over the final six and half minutes.

Paul Darkwa registered another double-double for CSU as he had the game highs in points, 18, and rebounds, 13.  It was his fifth double-double in seven contests.  Steve Peterson and Idell Bell also hit double figures in scoring tallying 13 and 12, respectively.  Winford Ivey dished out a CSU career high eight assists, the highest assist total this season by a Cougar.

As a team, Columbus State shot 44.2% (23-for-52) from the field including 5-for-13 (38.5%) from long range.  They didn't help themselves any hitting just 59.1% (13-for-22) of their attempts from the free throw line.  CSU forced 18 GSW turnovers and out-rebounded their opponents by six, 36-30.

Milos Kluet led four Hurricanes in double figure netting 17 points.  Marlon Rivera (13 points), Evan Mobley (12 points) and Jamon Hawkins (12 points) were the others in double figures.  The only other player to score for Georgia Southwestern was Matt Shaw as he made just one free throw attempt.  GSW was 17-for-42 (40.5%) from the floor which included making just five field goals in the first half.

CSU will have the remainder of the week off before traveling to Milledgeville to take on Georgia College on Saturday, February 11.  Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET.