PEMBROKE, N.C. – The University of Montevallo men's basketball team was down by 21 points at halftime to the Columbus State Cougars in Sunday evening's Peach Belt Conference Championship Game. In the second half, Coach Danny Young's team was able to utilize a total team effort to force overtime and eventually complete the improbable comeback. After 45 minutes of basketball, UM hoisted the PBC Championship Trophy after defeating the Cougars, 80-76.
Columbus State was looking to avenge its two regular season losses to the Falcons in the title game, jumping out to a quick start, sustaining the lead throughout the half, and led 41-20 at halftime.
The Cougars were paced by First Team All-Conference player Kenney Funderburk, who had 18 first half points, going 7-for-9 from the floor and making all three of his three-point attempts.
Montevallo went 0-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first half and shot 21.9% from the field.
The Falcons grabbed 11 offensive boards in the first half, with Larry Slaughter grabbing six total rebounds and Malik Fields getting an additional five boards.
To start the second half, the Cougars scored the first four points and expanded their lead out to 25 points.
From that point on, Montevallo dominated the contest, methodically chipping away at the deficit.
UM got six straight points after falling behind 45-20, including a three-pointer from Troran Brown that ended the scoring draught from deep.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Shykeem Jackson and Brown cut the lead to just 15 points with under 15 minutes to play.
Brown picked up his fourth foul midway through the half, so Montevallo was forced to go without the two-time PBC Player of the Year down the stretch. The Falcons continued to thrive without their star, receiving big performances from multiple players.
Ryan May made a three-pointer with 6:47 to play that put the Falcons within single digits, 59-50.
Ibrahim Johnson made some key baskets in the paint, fighting through a physical Cougar defense.
Bryant Orange was pivotal to the Falcon attack as time ticked down. The Chicago, Illinois native had eight points in the final four minutes, including the game-tying basket with just 21 seconds showing on the clock.
Montevallo fouled DeAngelo Kirkland on the CSU inbounds play; the senior proceeded to make both of his free throws.
After a timeout, UM went with a guard heavy lineup that featured Kimani Key and Brown to go along with Orange, Jackson, and May.
Brown would get an offensive rebound on the possession and get fouled on the putback. Despite sitting on the bench for a large portion of the second half, the senior from Phoenix, Arizona calmly sank two free throws to send the game into overtime.
All told, the Falcons went on a 48-23 run to close out regulation.
In the extra time, the trio of Orange, Brown, and Slaughter put a combined for 12 points, outdueling the Cougars and earning the win for Montevallo, 80-76.
Orange was aggressive getting to the basket and converted a three-point play to extend the lead to five points with just 22 second remaining in overtime.
Brown made three free throws to end the game and clinch the win for the Falcons.
Orange finished with 19 points, scoring 17 in the second half and overtime.
Brown finished with a team-high 20 points, making 75% of his free throw attempts. Brown was selected to the PBC All-Tournament Team.
Slaughter finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Combined with his 14 points and 14 rebounds from the semifinals, the senior was named the PBC Tournament MVP.
On what it felt like to win the championship and MVP honors, Slaughter, a second-team all-conference performer, said, "It's the greatest feeling in the world. I've never had this feeling."
For Montevallo, it's the second PBC Tournament Title in six years in the league. The Falcons have made the championship game five of the six years.
Next up for Montevallo is the NCAA Tournament. The Falcons will find out their first round opponent tonight during the NCAA Selection Show at 10:30 p.m. EST/9:30 p.m. CST.
2015 PBC Men's Basketball
Griffin Pittman, UNC Pembroke
Kevin Altidor, Young Harris
Kenney Funderburk, Columbus State
DeAngelo Kirkland, Columbus State
Troran Brown, Montevallo
Larry Slaughter, Montevallo