Cougars cruise past Flagler

CSU Men 84, Flagler 72

COLUMBUS, GA - Columbus State rallied from an 8-0 opening deficit to cruise to an 84-72 win over Flagler on Wednesday night at the Lumpkin Center.

With the victory, CSU (14-4, 8-3 PBC) stretched its winning streak to six games over Flagler. The Saints are now 0-3 all-time in the Lumpkin Center.

"I felt like we played a pretty complete game," said Columbus State head coach Robert Moore. "We didn't panic when it was 8-0 and, once we settled in, the offense was clicking. That showed me that we are maturing as a team which is always great to see."

Flagler (6-13, 2-9) got two threes to fall in the opening two minutes as it raced out to an 8-0 run. Ben Bobbitt and Nick Grier connected from downtown for the Saints.

It didn't take long for the Cougars to get going as they answered with seven unanswered points to make it an 8-7 game with a little more than 16 minutes on the clock. CSU played the ball in the paint during the spurt with Brentine Taylor and Arben Camaj each scoring a bucket.

After missing the Young Harris game, it didn't take long for Brent Jackson to make an impact off the bench for the Cougars. Less than one minute after checking in, Jackson nailed a three to give CSU its first lead of the game at 12-11 with 14:46 to go in the half.

Keith Gray followed with a layup for the Saints to put FC back ahead 13-12. However, that would be the last lead Flagler would have in the game.

Cam Baker scored the game's next five points as Columbus State went up 17-13.

Flagler didn't go away, however, as the Saints made it a one-point game (22-21) after the two sides exchanged three-pointers.

With 4:44 left until the break, Flagler again kept the game close with a monstrous dunk by Keith Gray that pulled the Saints within three (32-29) of the lead.
Columbus State would start to pull away from there, scoring seven of the next nine points to take an eight-point edge (39-31) with just under three minutes to go. Camaj had a big three for the Cougars during the stretch. CSU would maintain most of that lead at the break going to the locker room up 40-35.

Coming out of the break, it was all Columbus State as the Cougars stretched their lead into double digits in the opening minute. Taylor had a three-point play to begin the half and Baker hit a jumper to give CSU its first 10-point lead of the night at 45-35.

The Cougar lead would reach a game-high 15 points (53-38) after a Camaj tip-in with just under 16 minutes to play.

The lead would hover around that mark for almost 10 minutes of game time until Flagler started to creep back into the game.

Down 15 with 6:29 to play, Matt Clark laid one in that started a 9-0 FC run that close the gap to just six (68-62) with 3:48 on the clock.

With the Cougars needing a bucket, Baker made a play to get JaCori Payne open beyond the three-point line and the sophomore nailed the three to end all of Flagler's momentum.

The lead would extend back into double figures as the Cougars cruised down the stretch.

Baker and Jackson each had 24 points for the Cougars. Baker was 9-for-17 shooting and nearly missed a double-double finishing the night with nine assists. He also had five rebounds. Jackson was 7-for-16 from the floor, including making four three-pointers.

Payne finished with 14 points and four assists while Taylor had eight points and six rebounds.
As a team, CSU shot 49.2 percent (29-for-59) overall while posting a 47.6 percent (10-for-21) clip from three.

Flagler had four players in double figures led by Clark's 18. Gray had 17 while Keshaun Hamilton had a solid night with 10 points and nine boards.

FC shot 44.4 percent (24-for-54) from the floor and 36 percent (7-for-20) from three.

Columbus State is back in action on Saturday, a road contest at Georgia Southwestern. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. ET.