Kevin Price commentary: Looking at Columbus State wins in different ways

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 19, 2014 

Both Columbus State basketball teams won on Saturday, but they did so in different ways.

Not surprisingly, the victories drew different reactions from the two coaches.

The CSU men had struggled as of late, losing 4-of-5, most of them after having double-digit leads. Heading into Saturday's game, CSU had lost Peach Belt Conference games by four points or less.

The Cougars had been unable to stem the tide when opponents had been making second-half runs.

But that changed Saturday against Armstrong Atlantic.

"I thought the guys did a great job focusing and finishing down the stretch," men's coach Robert Moore told our reporter David Mitchell. "We gave up a couple here and there, but I thought they handled adversity well."

A look at the second-half boxscore is telling. The Cougars shot 81 percent (17-of-21) from the free-throw line and turned the ball over just three times.

That is a recipe for keeping leads and winning, which CSU will try again today against Flagler. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at the Lumpkin Center.

The Cougars must find a way to string together some wins. They are currently a half-game behind North Georgia for fourth place in the Western Division.

That is significant since only the top four teams from each division advance to the PBC tournament, which will be held once again at the Lumpkin Center.

The Cougars missed last year's tournament and can't afford to do the same thing again this season.

CSU, however, has a chance to do more than just squeak into the tournament. Everyone in the Western Division already has at least two losses, so with a winning streak the Cougars could put themselves in position to challenge for the division crown.

Meanwhile, the Lady Cougars, who play Flagler today at 1:30 p.m., did just about everything to gift-wrap their game for Armstrong Atlantic on Saturday.

CSU shot just 65 percent (13-of-20) from the free-throw line and committed 11 turnovers.

The last miscue gave Armstrong Atlantic a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but the shot missed.

"I haven't ever been more frustrated after a win," Norton told Mitchell. … "We turned it over way too much. We have to be able to protect the ball. I was surprised (she missed the shot at the end). I guess she was just going too fast and put the ball up too hard."

But a win is a win, and the Lady Cougars find themselves tied for third in the Western Conference, tied with Clayton State. Both are just a half-game behind Young Harris and 1½ games behind North Georgia. Unlike past years when Clayton State dominated the PBC, the race is wide open, with 12 of the 14 teams with three losses already.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, kprice@ledger-enquirer.com

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