Columbus – For the fifth time in the last two months, the Columbus State University men's basketball team erased a double-digit deficit defeating Lander 77-76 in the Peach Belt Conference tournament quarterfinals. The game was played in the Lumpkin Center.
Columbus State (21-6) will face Young Harris in the semifinals on Saturday, March 7 at UNC Pembroke. The Mountain Lions upset top-seeded GRU Augusta on Saturday.
Kenney Funderburk paced CSU with 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting. DeAngelo Kirkland turned in his 14th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Shane Heyward stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks. Shevren Keaton scored 11 points off the Cougar bench.
"I thought our guys did a great job in the second half. Our guys have done a great job all year battling back.
"Kenney [Funderburk] kept us in the game for awhile and I'm just happy to get a win today."
Columbus State (21-6) held an early 4-3 lead just minutes into the game, but it would be the only lead the Cougars would have until the final two minutes of the contest.
Lander (19-9) did its best work early in the game from the free throw line as the Bearcats scored eight of their first 15 points from the stripe.
The Cougars hung tight until the Bearcats scored seven straight points to take a 27-19 lead with three minutes to play in the half. CSU heated up the rest of the half though, as Funderburk hits a pair of threes and Keaton laid in a pass from Funderburk at the horn to get the Cougars within three at the break.
CSU came out slow after the break, allowing LU to open up a nine-point lead at the 17-minute mark. The Cougars got it back inside two possessions, but the Bearcats used back-to-back baskets to stretch the lead out to its widest at 58-48 with under 10 minutes to go.
Keaton keyed an 8-0 Cougar run to pull CSU within two, however Lander once again had the answer as JR Washington hit one of his six three-pointers on the night to move the lead back out to seven.
The lead later became eight, as Washington converted an and-one with 2:40 remaining that looked to seal the Cougars' fate. As they've done on numerous occasions this season, the Cougars had one last rally in them.
Kirkland kickstarted CSU with his only three-point make of the night, jumpstarting a 68-second stretch that saw Columbus State score 11 unanswered points. Funderburk converted a pair on three-point plays during the spurt, the last of which gave CSU its first lead since the early going.
The Cougars continued to add on to their lead from the free throw line, but Washington wasn't ready to let Lander die just yet. He connected on two more threes in the final 25 seconds to give him 31 points on the night and get LU within two (75-73) with four seconds left.
Brent Jackson hit two free throws to ice the game on the following possession and Kiair Crouch's three at the buzzer created the final margin.
Columbus State shot 46.4 percent (26-of-56) on the night, but struggled some at the free throw line hitting 20-of-33 (60.6 percent).
Lander was 27-of-62 (43.5 percent) for the game and made 8-of-16 (50 percent) from beyond the arc.