Cougars win PBC opener

CSU 82, UNC Pembroke 69

COLUMBUS, GA - A quartet of Columbus State Cougars were in double figures to lead the Cougars an 82-69 victory in their Peach Belt Conference opener against UNC Pembroke on Thursday night at the Lumpkin Center.

Darren Daniel and Cam Baker each scored 16 for CSU with JaCori Payne and Brent Jackson adding 15 apiece.

"I felt like the guys moved the ball around very well tonight," said Columbus State head coach Robert Moore. "Once you get those passes going around the court, it is hard to stop.

"Our defense also played well against a very talented and well coached UNC Pembroke team."

The game saw only three lead changes with all three coming in the opening minute. Baker opened the game with a bank shot off the glass before the Braves got a three ball from Brandon Watts on their opening possession.

Brandon Winford got a jumper to go down for the Braves to make it 5-2 before the Cougar offense started roaring.

Payne jump started the Cougars on a four-point play after draining a three-pointer while drawing the foul. The play began a 16-3 run, which included a 9-0 CSU spurt, that saw the Cougars go-ahead 18-8 with 12:42 left to play. During the run, Columbus State made three three-pointers and got six points from Jackson and five apiece from Payne and Daniel.

UNC Pembroke (6-5 0-2 PBC) fought back, however, rolling off 10 straight points to tie the game at the 10:58 mark. Two Giovanni Mack three pointers were the key to the spurt while Watts hit two jumpers.

Columbus State finally broke the UNCP run thanks to a Brentine Taylor jumper and a second-chance three by Jackson gave CSU a 23-20 lead.

CSU's lead would stay within a single possession until a late 14-4 Cougar run gave Columbus State a safe lead at halftime. The Cougars continued to nail the three ball with Payne hitting back-to-back trifectas to start the run.

UNCP would score four of the final six points of the half, but Columbus State led 42-29 at the break.
Columbus State (7-1, 1-0) cruised in the second half leading by 20 for the majority of play.

In a 45-33 game, the Cougars scored nine straight points to take their first 20-point lead of the game at the 14:05 mark. Daniel closed the run off with three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt.

CSU's biggest lead of the night followed a Matthias Siguardson layup that pushed the Cougars ahead by 27 (66-39) with 10:22 left in the game. CSU also had a 27-point lead (81-54) with just under three minutes to play.

To go along with his 16 points, Daniel had a game-high nine rebounds. He was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. DeMarcus McVay had six points and rebounds while adding four blocks.

As a team, CSU shot 49.1 percent (28-for-57), but went an even 50 percent (11-for-22) from three.

For UNC Pembroke, Watts scored a game-high 20 points after a 7-for-14 shooting performance. Winford added 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Braves shot 35.4 percent (23-for-65) and were 9-for-25 (36.0 percent) from three-point range.

Columbus State will play one final game before the holiday break, taking on USC Aiken on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET at the Lumpkin Center.