FORT VALLEY, Ga. – In a game that featured 14 lead changes and nine ties, Columbus State outlasted Fort Valley State 83-78 on Monday night. The contest took place at the HPE Basketball Arena in Fort Valley.
Throughout the night, neither team held a lead larger than eight points which came at the 12:32 mark in the first half with the Wildcats leading 23-15.
"The guys fought all night long for this victory in a very tough environment," commented head coach Robert Moore. "I was really proud in how we finished tonight and I think that will be key later in the season."
Columbus State (4-1) jumped out to an early 9-4 lead after Brandon Dawson laid one in with 16:52 to play in the first. Dawson had four in the opening minutes while Nick Turner added an early three-pointer.
The Wildcats quickly countered taking their first lead off the game after a Joshua Davis three-pointer pushed the score to 13-12 at the 14:43 mark.
Freshman R.J. Sessions would then hit his second three-pointer of the first half which allowed CSU to go back in front 15-14 before FVSU went on a 9-0 run to take a game high eight-point lead (23-15) with 12:32 showing on the clock.
After Jermaine Morgan broke the scoring drought for the Cougars, Sessions was at it again connecting from downtown pulling the Cougars within three, 23-20 and kicking off a 14-2 CSU run.
During the run, DeAngelo Kirkland had five points including a three-point basket while Derrick Spear put the Cougars in front 29-26 finishing off a lay-up after receiving a great pass from Sessions.
It didn't take long for Fort Valley State to respond as back-to-back three-pointers by Davis made it a 33-29 Wildcat advantage with just over 6:30 left in the opening half.
Once again, the Cougars attempted to pull away going on another impressive run, this time a 11-2 spurt that put CSU ahead 40-35 at the 4:19 mark. Four different players scored for the Cougars during the run including four by junior BJ Battle.
However, Fort Valley finished off the half outscoring the Cougars 9-4 to tie the game at 44 at the break.
Fort Valley (3-4) scored the opening bucket of the second half to jump in front 46-44 before Battle put the Cougars up by one with a three just a minute and half into the final half of the game.
After the two teams exchanged baskets, Brandon Davey gave the Wildcats their final lead of the night on a lay-up putting the hosts up by one, 50-49, with 16:32 left in the game.
A pair of free throws by Shane Heyward gave CSU a 54-51 lead before FVSU again responded scoring three consecutive points tying the game at 54 with 14:21 to play.
The Cougars took a four-point lead (60-56) thanks to free throws by Morgan and Session while Dimitri Davis hit a jumper. However, De'Mario Black pulled FVSU to within one after a three-pointer at the midway point in the half.
The game would be tied one final time at 62-all before Morgan scored five straight points for the Cougars to put CSU in front 67-63 with under eight to play.
Columbus State would eventually take its largest lead of the game, 76-69, at the 3:23 mark on a Heyward free throw.
Fort Valley would get within three one final time with 2:10 remaining but the Cougars held on for the victory.
Four Columbus State players scored in double figures led by freshman R.J. Sessions' 14 points. Sessions was 3-for-6 from three-point range while going 5-for-7 from the free throw line.
Kenney Funderburk scored 13 while BJ Battle chipped in with 11.
DeAngelo Kirkland recorded his first double-double of the year scoring 12 points while grabbing 11 rebounds.
For Fort Valley, Joshua Davis and Corey Hunter each scored 17 while Nigel Domineck had 14.
As a team, the Cougars shot 41.8 percent (28-for-67) from the floor but connected on just 6-of-21 from beyond the arc. CSU was also 21-for-34 from the charity stripe.