Poor second half shooting haunted Columbus State as the Cougars fell 77-73 to Augusta in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon at the Lumpkin Center.
Over the final 16 minutes of the game, CSU was just 4-for-22 from the floor. In the second half, the Cougars shot 29.6 percent (8-for-27) and were 1-for-9 from three-point range.
"We didn't play our best game today," stated head coach Robert Moore. "It was one of our worst games on offense this entire year and we missed a few key free throws down the stretch that cost us.
"Give Augusta all the credit in the world. They executed their game plan and came into our building and beat us."
In a 48-48 game, Augusta (18-10) reeled off nine straight points to go in front 57-48 with under 14 minutes to go. Tyvez Monroe hit a big three to help kickoff the spurt.
Cam Baker hit a jumper to break a nearly seven-minute field goal drought to make it a 57-50 game. Baker started the half on fire scoring the first seven points for the Cougars before the cold streak.
With under nine minutes to go, DeMarcus McVay pulled the Cougars within four (59-55) on a pair of free throws.
Augusta stretched the lead back to eight before four straight points from Baker from the line made it a 63-60 game with 6:20 remaining.
The lead would hover around four for the next few minutes until JaCori Payne drew a foul and nailed both free throws to make it a 69-67 game with 3:26 to go. CSU would then have a chance to tie the game a minute later but Baker went one-for-two from the line to make it a 69-68 game.
Columbus State wouldn't get any closer as Augusta iced the game away from the free throw line. Keshun Sherrill went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final minute to cap off the game.
The first half was tight as the lead changed hands 16 times and the score was tied nine times.
Four minutes into the game the scored was tied at eight after McVay hit a running layup in the lane.
Brent Jackson put the Cougars on top (18-17) with a free throw with 9:21 to go in the half before eight straight Augusta points put the Jaguars ahead 25-18. During that stretch, Augusta scored four from the free throw line thanks to a technical foul.
However, the Cougars roared back. Down 27-21, CSU scored seven straight points to go ahead 28-27. Payne had five of the seven, including hitting a three to put the Cougars on top.
Down the stretch of the half, the lead changed hands nine times over the final four minutes. Tamyrik Fields slammed home a jam to give the Jaguars a 39-38 lead at the break.
Baker scored 35 points to lead Columbus State. The senior was 8-for-15 from the field with six rebounds and four assists. Payne was the only other Cougar with double-digit points with 16.
As a team, CSU shot 39.2 percent (20-for-51).
Sherrill paced the Augusta attack with 19 points as three other Jaguars scored in double figures. Tommy Williams had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Augusta shot 41.8 percent (23-for-55) from the field while hitting five of its 16 three-point attempts. From the free throw line, the Jaguars were 26-for-29.
Columbus State will now wait for its NCAA Tournament fate. The selection show will be held Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. ET.