Cougars beat Fort Valley State

Columbus State 79, Fort Valley State 76

COLUMBUS – Jermaine Morgan rattled the rim with a monstrous jam off an inbound pass with 12.6 seconds left to lift Columbus State to a 79-76 victory over Fort Valley State University on Wednesday evening at the Lumpkin Center.

The dunk bailed the Cougars out after CSU held a 14-point lead, 62-48, with 12:48 remaining in the game. From there, Fort Valley began chipping away at the lead. D'Mario Black began a quick 7-2 spurt with a three-pointer while he added a lay-up to cut it to a single-digit contest.

The Wildcats continued cutting away at the deficit getting within four, 65-61, with 8:47 remaining.

After the two sides exchanged free throws, FVSU rallied for another impressive spurt, this time an 11-3 run to take the lead at 72-69 with 4:05 showing on the clock. After beginning the second half slow, Brandon Davey took over the game for the Wildcats scoring six points over the run while Nigel Domineck chipped in three.

Needing a bucket, Derrick Spear hit his lone three ball of the night to tie the game for the seventh time at 72-all with only3:53 to play The shot ended a six minute and four second field goal draught for the Cougars.

Columbus State (6-1) eventually went back up by three thanks to Shane Heyward but the Wildcats came right back with a lay-up by Domineck that made it a one-point game, 75-74, with 1:50 remaining.

After a missed three-pointer for the Cougars, Joshuah Davis drew a foul for FVSU and calmly made both free throws to put the Wildcats back in front with 29 seconds showing.

On the following possession, a kick ball violation gave the ball back to CSU on their end of the flow setting up Morgan's dramatic slam.

Fort Valley (3-5) had plenty of time left to put up a shot but a turnover led to a Kenney Funderburk dunk to finish off the game.

"We were very lucky to win this game after committing 27 turnovers and shooting 57.6 percent from the free throw line," stated head coach Robert Moore. "Nick (Turner) got us off to a very hot start and that was key for us."

Fort Valley came out of the gates hot jumping to a 9-2 advantage with a minute and a half off the clock. The Wildcats made their first four shots including a three-pointer by Davey.

Nick Turner kept the Cougars in the game with two early three-pointers including hitting a trey to make it an 11-8 contest with 16:21 left until the break.

After DeAngelo Kirkland hit a three-pointer to bring the Cougars within two, 15-13, Funderburk slammed one home to tie the game at the 13:27 mark.

However, Fort Valley hit back-to-back three's in between a Morgan dunk to retake a 21-17 advantage.

The Cougars continued to feed the ball to Morgan as the junior scored the next five points bringing CSU within two, 24-22, midway in the half.

The Wildcats would again try to pull away going up by seven on a Cory Hunter three-pointer before the Cougars went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 31. Brandon Dawson began the spurt with an old fashion three-point play while Turner and BJ Battle added threes from beyond the arc.

Heyward finally gave CSU its first lead on a put back making it a 35-33 game with 4:56 until the break.

Columbus State would take a 43-39 lead into the break after outscoring FVSU 8-4 over the final four minutes of the half.

Four different Cougars scored over 10 points led by Nick Turner's 14. The senior was 3-for-5 from three-point range while adding four assists and two steals. Shane Heyward (13), BJ Battle (12), Kenney Funderburk (12) and Jermaine Morgan (11) completed the balanced attack for CSU.

Brandon Davey scored a game-high 21 points going 8-for-15 from the field while Joshua Davis and Corey Hunter chipped in with 11. Both Davey and Davis had five steals.

As a team, Columbus State shot 49 percent (25-for-51) from the floor and a season best 47.6 percent (10-for-21) from three-point range. FVSU shot 45 percent (27-for-60) despite going 5-for-19 from downtown.

With the victory, CSU extended its home winning streak to ten games.

Columbus State now turns its attention to Peach Belt Conference play as 10th-ranked Montevallo visits on Saturday. Tip-off is at 3:30 p.m. ET at the Lumpkin Center.