Pembroke, N.C. – Behind a pair of dominant performances in the post, the Columbus State University men's basketball team took down Young Harris 74-65 in the Peach Belt Conference tournament semifinals on Saturday night. The game was played at the English E. Jones Center in Pembroke, N.C.
The Cougars will now take on Montevallo in the conference championship game on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. It will be the first championship appearance for CSU since 2012, when the Cougars lost to Montevallo.
Both Columbus State teams will be playing in Sunday's championships, marking just the 10th time in league history that a school has placed both teams in the championship game. Sunday will be the sixth time CSU has accomplished the feat.
DeAngelo Kirkland, Shane Heyward and Kenney Funderburk all turned in huge performances on the night as the trio combined for 56 points, 39 rebounds and 10 assists. Kirkland ended with 18 points and a career-high 20 rebounds, while Heyward pitched in 19 points and a career-high 16 boards. Funderburk rounded out the group with 19 points and seven assists.
"I thought the guys came out ready to play tonight for 40 minutes and we were able to get the victory," said CSU head coach Robert Moore. "Our main goal has been to win a championship and we will get a chance to try for that tomorrow against Montevallo."
Leading 35-31 at the halftime break, Columbus State (22-6) took off to start the second half. Kirkland put one in on CSU's first possession to give the Cougars their largest lead of the game at six, but YHC answered with three straight to pull within three.
From there, the Cougars put together a 15-3 run to open up their largest lead of the night at 52-37. Ty Harris helped key the CSU spurt with a three as the shot clock was winding down and a long two-pointer two possessions later.
Young Harris (13-14) made its big push inside of 10 minutes to play, as the Mountain Lions started to heat up from outside. Isaiah Johnson, CJ Wilson and Herdie Lawrence hit consecutive threes to get the game down inside single digits, and a Kevin Altidor free throw made it 58-52 with 8:58 remaining.
Heyward had the answer though for the Cougars, grabbing an offensive rebound and laying it back in with a foul for a three-point play. The play settled things down for the Cougars, who quickly stretched the lead back out to double figures and rolled to the finish line.
Columbus State was 29-of-62 (46.8 percent) on the night and 4-of-12 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
Young Harris was held to 33.8 percent (24-of-71) shooting, while making 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) from outside.