Cougars use big second half to beat Saints

CSU 93, Flagler 74

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State used a 19-0 run early in the second half to post a 93-74 victory over Flagler College on Monday afternoon. The Peach Belt Conference contest took place at the Lumpkin Center.

"I thought our guys did a pretty good job today," stated CSU head coach Robert Moore. "We came out with some intensity, especially in the second half, and it was good to see us close out a game."

Flagler took a 41-39 lead into halftime before Keith Matthews gave the Saints a four-point lead on a jump shot on the opening possession of the half. From there, it was a Cougar highlight show as Shane Heyward began a 19-0 run with a three-point play after drawing a foul on a lay-up.

On back-to-back trips down the floor, R.J. Sessions and BJ Battle nailed threes to give Columbus State a 48-43 lead. Four free throws and then four straight points by DeAngelo Kirkland stretched CSU's lead to 12 while Battle capped off the spurt with another trifecta to make it a 58-43 game at the 14:24 mark.

Flagler (8-8, 2-7 PBC), however, quickly made it a game with three straight three-pointers. Matt Conway had two of the threes while Richard Brown also connected from downtown.

The Saints continued to inch closer cutting the deficit to four, 61-57, with 10:33 remaining on a three-point play by Adam Jones.

However, that would be as close as Flagler would get as the Cougars went back ahead by double-digits thanks to a 10-0 run that put the hosts up 15, 77-62, with 4:47 showing on the clock. Battle fueled the run with six points while Jahmad Saleem had three.

Columbus State (10-6, 4-5) slowly added to its lead eventually taking a game high 22-point lead (90-68) on a Dimitri Davis lay-up with 1:14 left in the game.

BJ Battle exploded for a career high 26 points going 8-for-16 from the field and also a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. The junior also chipped in with eight rebounds.

DeAngelo Kirkland also had a career high night netting 18 points while grabbing eight boards. R.J. Sessions added 11 points for the Cougars.

Playing in his first game since January 4, Saleem dished out 10 assists while scoring four points and corralling four boards.

For Flagler, Richard Brown scored a game high 31 points going 10-for-15 from the floor.

As a team, Columbus State shot 47.6 percent (28-for-59) including a 53.3 percent (16-for-30) mark in the second half. For the second straight time, CSU went to the line over 35 times as the Cougars were 31-for-39 from the charity stripe.

Flagler shot 41 percent (25-for-61) including making 12 three-pointers.

The first half was full of runs including a 9-0 spurt by the Cougars that allowed them to jump in front 11-6 four minutes into the game. After the Saints hit two early three-pointers to go ahead 6-2, the Cougars stormed back. Battle did most of the work scoring seven of the nine points for CSU while Kirkland had a monster jam.

Columbus State held a 10-point lead (23-13) at the 12:04 mark before Flagler marched back into the game. A three-pointer by Brown began an 11-0 run for the Saints that allowed them to retake a 24-23 lead with 8:53 remaining in the opening half. Jones also added a trey in the spurt for FC.

After the Cougars went back in front by three on a Davis jumper, the Saints strung together nine straight points to take a 33-27 edge with 4:50 until the break. The six-point lead was the largest advantage for Flagler in the game.

The Cougars would battle back and cut the deficit to two before the break on a pair of Kirkland free throws with just three seconds showing on the clock.

Columbus State gets back in action when they play at Georgia Southwestern on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.