A day after struggling to beat NAIA member Voorhees College, the Columbus State men's basketball team showed its mettle Saturday by overcoming a seven-point deficit with 1:29 remaining to rally and knock off previously unbeaten West Georgia, 83-78, in overtime at The Lumpkin Center.
"The two games this weekend really brought us together as a team," said Columbus State head coach Robert Moore.
"When you have blowouts, it's hard to build team chemistry. But when you have games like this one and the one (Friday, an 84-80 win over Voorhees), it really brings you together and you can play better basketball. For us, it equated into two wins this weekend."
A 3-pointer by Ryan Godfrey with 1:29 remaining gave West Georgia (5-1) a 72-65 lead, but Columbus State (3-1) got three consecutive stops and made 5-of-6 free throws to close to within 72-70 with 55 seconds to go in regulation.
Following a free throw by the Wolves' Sean Boston to make it 73-70 with 52.4 seconds left, the Cougars turned the ball over.
However, West Georgia missed a run-out dunk attempt and CSU's B.J. Battle drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 73 with 19.4 seconds still to go. West Georgia missed the final shot of regulation and the game went to overtime.
In the extra period, the teams traded baskets and the game was tied at 77 with 2:39 remaining.
It was then that the Cougars took control for good, forcing West Georgia into turnovers and missed shots on its next three possessions. CSU got free throws from Shane Heyward and a layup from Kenney Funderburk to go up 81-77 with 1:20 to go.
The Wolves' Stephan Thompson sank a free throw to get West Georgia to within 81-78 with 34 seconds left, but Derrick Spear made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 25.7 seconds and the Cougars got two more stops on the defensive end to hold on for the victory.
Funderburk led Columbus State with 23 points and three steals in 39 minutes of action. Battle finished with 17 points, three steals and three rebounds, DeAngelo Kirkland added 14 and eight rebounds off the bench and Spear pitched in 13 for the Cougars in the victory.
"I think the guys understand (Funderburk) has got to be our go-to guy," said Moore. "He knows he has to step up and lead us in scoring and be a leader for us this season."
For the game, CSU was 26-for-59 (44.1 percent) from the field and made 7 of its 17 3-point attempts (41.2 percent). The Cougars also made 24 of their 33 free throws (72.7 percent) compared to only 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) for West Georgia.
Phillip Flowers was the leading scorer for West Georgia, scoring 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting (including 6-of-10 on 3-pointers) and adding four rebounds.
Thompson -- who was only listed at 6-foot-4 -- was a monster underneath for the Wolves, finishing with 19 points and 21 rebounds.
No other West Georgia player had more than eight points, as the Wolves were just 25-of-68 (36.8 percent) from the field and only made one of its eight field goal attempts (12.5 percent) in overtime.
West Georgia was able to put points on the scoreboard, though, because it hit 12 of its 22 3-point attempts (54.5 percent).
"West Georgia is a quality team," said Moore. "They're the level of team we're going to see in the Peach Belt Conference. If we can play somebody like West Georgia and beat them, we should be fine in conference play."
Columbus State is back in action Monday, when the Cougars travel to Fort Valley for a non-conference game. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 8 p.m.
WEST GEORGIA (5-1)
Phillip Flowers 8-16 0-0 22; Stephan Thompson 5-15 9-16 19; Zach Taulien 3-4
0-1 9; Sean Boston 3-5 1-2 8; Thomas Higginbothm 2-7 4-5 8; Ryan Godfrey 2-9
2-2 8; Deontre Brown 1-2 0-1 2; Taylor Cochran 1-5 0-0 2; Emory Bernard 0-1
0-0 0; Lavon Gray 0-3 0-0 0; Joseph Harrell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-68 16-27 78.
COLUMBUS STATE (3-1)
Kenney Funderburk 6-14 9-12 23; BJ Battle 7-15 0-0 17; DeAngelo Kirkland 4-7
5-6 14; Derrick Spear 5-7 2-6 13; R.J. Sessions 0-3 6-6 6; Brandon Dawson
1-1 2-3 4; Shane Heyward 2-4 0-0 4; Jermaine Morgan 1-2 0-0 2; Dimitri Davis
0-1 0-0 0; Jonathan Manning 0-0 0-0 0; Nick Turner 0-3 0-0 0; Ty Harris 0-2
0-0 0. Totals 26-59 24-33 83.
West Georgia 36 37 5 -- 78
Columbus State 38 35 10 -- 83
3-point goals--West Georgia 12-22 (Phillip Flowers 6-10; Zach Taulien 3-4;
Ryan Godfrey 2-6; Sean Boston 1-1; Taylor Cochran 0-1), Columbus State
University 7-17 (BJ Battle 3-7; Kenney Funderburk 2-3; Derrick Spear 1-1;
DeAngelo Kirkland 1-1; Nick Turner 0-2; R.J. Sessions 0-3). Fouled out--West
Georgia-Lavon Gray, Columbus State University-Jermaine Morgan; DeAngelo
Kirkland. Rebounds--West Georgia 49 (Stephan Thompson 21), Columbus State
University 37 (DeAngelo Kirkland 8). Assists--West Georgia 15 (Ryan Godfrey
6), Columbus State University 9 (Nick Turner 4). Total fouls--West Georgia
25, Columbus State University 29. Technical fouls--West Georgia-TEAM 2,
Columbus State University-None. A-212