GRU Augusta rallies to beat Cougars

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Columbus State couldn't hold off a late charge by Georgia Regents University Augusta as the Jaguars defeated the Cougars 74-72 on Sunday afternoon. The Peach Belt Conference contest took place at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

"The guys gave it everything they had tonight against one of the best teams in the conference on the road," said head coach Robert Moore. "GRU made more plays than us down the stretch and that's all that matters. We can't dwell on the loss as we have to prepare for Montevallo on Wednesday."

Holding a 41-31 lead at halftime, the Cougars quickly expanded their margin to 15 points (49-34) just over two minutes into the second half after DeAngelo Kirkland finished a fast break opportunity. Kenney Funderburk recorded an assist after starting the play by corralling a steal.

Columbus State's (12-10, 6-9 PBC) lead hovered around the 10-point mark until six straight points by the Jaguars cut it to a 55-49 game with 11:37 to play. KJ Sherrill had a three-point play after being fouled on a layup attempt while Ryan Weems connected from downtown to pull the hosts within six.

The Cougars didn't panic, however, stretching their lead back to double-digits opening up a 65-53 margin on a R.J. Sessions three-pointer with 9:10 to go.

For the first time in the half, Georgia Regents (20-4, 13-2) finally strung together baskets to cut into the Cougar lead as the Jaguars went on a 10-0 run getting within two (65-63) with under seven to play.

After a pair of free throws began the streak, Roman Hill stole the ball away from the Cougars and Keshun Sherrill made CSU pay with a three-pointer to make it a 65-58 game.

The Cougars attempted to end the spurt with a jumper but it missed allowing Weems to hit another three pulling GRU to within just four (65-61). KJ Sherrill capped off the run with a pair of free throws at the 6:23 mark.

After a prolonged scoring draught, each team went 1-for-2 at the line before KJ Sherrill nailed a jumper to complete the comeback and tie the game at 66-all with 4:15 remaining.

On the following possession, Shane Heyward grabbed an offensive board and put it back in for a bucket while being fouled to re-give CSU the lead. Heyward completed the three-point play making it a 69-66 game with 3:42 to play.

However on the other end of the floor, D'Angelo Boyce followed with a huge three-pointer to tie the game for the eighth time.

Heyward would again give CSU a two-point lead with a layup while Kirkland went 1-for-2 at the line at the 2:00 mark to give the visitors a 72-69 lead.

Just 11 seconds later, GRU tied the game back up after Weems completed a three-point play in the paint.

With the game tied, BJ Battle launched a three that missed the mark giving Weems a defensive rebound. However, a hustling Battle stole the ball giving CSU another chance to take the lead. This time, Funderburk took a three that missed giving the possession to the Jaguars.

Georgia Regents ran a play that found KJ Sherrill by the lane as the Sherrill made the short jumper to give GRU a 74-72 lead.

Columbus State had two late chances to tie the game but both were unsuccessful as GRU held on for the victory.

Four Columbus State players scored in double figures led by DeAngelo Kirkland's 16. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and made 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Shane Heyward had 15 points while Kenney Funderburk and R.J. Sessions scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.

As a team, CSU shot a season best 54.3 percent (25-for-46) from the field including a 7-for-15 mark (46.7 percent) from three-point range.

Ryan Weems scored a game high 18 points connecting on three three-point field goals. Keshun Sherrill (15) and KJ Sherrill (14) also had good scoring nights.

The Jaguars shot 47.9 percent (23-for-48) as a team from the floor and 47.4 percent (9-for-19) from three.

The Cougars raced out to an early 5-0 lead after the opening tip found Funderburk who slammed it home for the first points of the game. Battle followed with a three-pointer forcing an early timeout by GRU.

Georgia Regents fought back and tied the game for the first time (9-9) at the 16:15 mark on a Harold Doby free throw.

The two sides exchanged long balls before Weems put the hosts up for the first time in the game with a layup giving the Jaguars a 14-12 advantage with 14:08 to play until the break.

Columbus State would respond with a 9-0 run that saw the Cougars go-ahead 21-14 midway through the half. The run began with a jumper by Brandon Dawson and a three-pointer by Sessions.

The Jaguars would slowly chip away at the lead eventually tying the game at 25-all with under six to play in the half.

Hill would give GRU a two-point lead (29-27) with 3:29 to go in the half before the Cougars closed the first 20-minute period on a 14-2 run to head into the locker room up 41-31. Battle had a three-pointer during the spurt while the Cougars scored five points in the final seven seconds to up their lead.

Columbus State will continue the road trip on Wednesday, traveling to face ninth-ranked Montevallo. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.