Three days after playing possibly its best game of the season in a win at Montevallo Wednesday night, the Columbus State men's basketball team played its worst half of the season and it cost them dearly.
Young Harris jumped out to a 45-28 halftime lead on Columbus State Saturday afternoon at The Lumpkin Center before going on to an 82-72 victory in a Peach Belt Conference matchup.
The loss -- coupled with a Clayton State win over Georgia Southwestern -- means Columbus State (13-11, 7-10) now has just a one-game lead for the fourth and final PBC tournament berth out of the Western Division with two games remaining.
"Anytime you have the emotional high like we had from beating Montevallo, you can either stay on that high or get really down," Columbus State coach Robert Moore said.
"We went way down. None of our shots were falling, and I felt like we started pressing too much."
One piece of good news coming out of the loss is that even though CSU saw its lead over Clayton State (10-14, 6-11) shrink, the Cougars still have the tiebreaker against the Lakers. Columbus State only has to win one of its last two games (at North Georgia Wednesday, at Clayton State March 1) or have Clayton State lose one of its last two (at Young Harris Wednesday, vs. Columbus State) for the Cougars to make it to the PBC tournament March 6-9 at The Lumpkin Center.
Things got ugly early for Columbus State, as Young Harris (16-7, 10-6) made three 3-pointers in the first 2:50 of the game and the Mountain Lions took just 8:20 to build a 23-6 lead. Midway through the first half, Columbus State found itself down 32-12, had made only 4 of its first 18 shots (22.2 percent). The Cougars were getting outrebounded 19-6.
A 9-2 burst by the Cougars got them back to within 39-26 with 1:57 to go before halftime, but Young Harris scored six of the half's final eight points to take a 17-point lead (45-28) into the locker room.
"We came out with no energy, and we didn't go get any loose balls," Moore said. "We just didn't make any plays. We got caught up in the limelight of homecoming."
Columbus State started to chip away at the Mountain Lions' lead early in the second half and put together a 16-4 run to close to within 53-46 with 11:40 still to go after a 3-pointer by Northside alumnus R.J. Sessions. About two minutes later, Sessions hit another 3-pointer to get the Cougars back to within seven again -- this time at 58-51 with 9:22 remaining -- and CSU had a shot to get to within five, but its shot was off the mark.
Young Harris responded with three straight 3-pointers by C.J. Wilson to stretch its lead back out to 67-53 and the Cougars got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way..
Isaiah Johnson led Young Harris with 20 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Kenney Funderburk was the high scorer for Columbus State with 22 points and five rebounds. Sessions added 14 points, three rebounds and two steals and DeAngelo Kirkland had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. For the game, the Cougars made only 22 of their 66 shots (33.3 percent) and just 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
YOUNG HARRIS (16-7, 10-6 PBC)
Isaiah Johnson 7-13 3-4 20; C.J. Wilson 6-10 2-2 17; Kevin Altidor 4-9 5-6 13; Sam Watson 4-4 4-4 12; Tony Raymond 4-9 3-4 11; Herdie Lawrence 2-6 0-0 6; Steve Viterbo 1-5 0-0 3; Bjorn Walker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-56 17-20 82.
COLUMBUS STATE (13-11, 7-10 PBC)
Kenney Funderburk 7-17 6-8 22; R.J. Sessions 5-12 1-2 14; DeAngelo Kirkland 4-10 3-10 11; Shane Heyward 2-7 4-7 8; Jonathan Manning 2-5 2-2 6; BJ Battle 1-7 2-2 4; Ty Harris 0-2 3-4 3; Nick Turner 1-2 1-1 3; Jahmad Saleem 0-3 1-2 1; Dimitri Davis 0-1 0-0 0; Brandon Dawson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-66 23-38 72.
Halftime: Young Harris 45-28. 3-point goals--Young Harris 9-16 (C.J. Wilson 3-6; Isaiah Johnson 3-3; Herdie Lawrence 2-5; Steve Viterbo 1-2), Columbus State 5-22 (R.J. Sessions 3-8; Kenney Funderburk 2-7; Jonathan Manning 0-3; BJ Battle 0-3; DeAngelo Kirkland 0-1). Fouled out--Young Harris-Isaiah Johnson; Kevin Altidor, Columbus State-Shane Heyward. Rebounds--Young Harris 43 (Steve Viterbo 10), Columbus State 36 (DeAngelo Kirkland 11). Assists--Young Harris 11 (C.J. Wilson 2; Herdie Lawrence 2; Isaiah Johnson 2; Tony Raymond 2; Steve Viterbo 2), Columbus State 5 (DeAngelo Kirkland 1; Jonathan Manning 1; Ty Harris 1; Nick Turner 1; Jahmad Saleem 1). Total fouls--Young Harris 25, Columbus State 17. Technical fouls--Young Harris-Isaiah Johnson, Columbus State-None. A-1504