Columbus State’s quest to win the Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship came to an end Saturday in the semifinals with a 77-73 loss to Augusta University at the Lumpkin Center.
With 1:28 remaining, the Cougars (21-7) had a chance to take the lead trailing 69-68, but Brent Jackson launched a 3-point attempt from the top of the key that bounced off the rim early in the shot clock.
“The last two minutes we took some crazy shots that we probably shouldn’t have took,” CSU coach Robert Moore said. “If just ran our offense and got a better shot, I think guys got a little anxious and that hurt us.”
Augusta (18-10) managed to ice the game from the free throw line with Keshun Sherrill going 8 for 8 in the final minute. It was an appropriate finish to a game that featured 58 personal fouls and 71 free throws.
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The quick whistles played into Augusta’s half court game plan while limiting Columbus State’s ability to get out in transition. The Cougars shot the ball well enough in the first half to keep pace but couldn’t replicate the success in the second half when CSU went 8 of 27 from the field and 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
Augusta jumped out to a 57-48 lead with 13:40 remaining when the Cougars went nearly five minutes without a basket.
“It was really tough on our guys,” Moore said of the pace of the game. “We are a transition team and we like play free flowing. There was nothing free flowing about that game tonight.”
Columbus State’s Cam Baker looked like he might carry his team to victory on the offensive end all by himself when he opened the second half the same way he closed out the first half — on fire.
Baker erased Augusta’s early 25-18 first-half lead with a flurry of activity on the offensive end. The senior guard scored eight points and dished out three assists to help the Cougars get within one point at the break.
In the second half, Baker didn’t miss the first three times up the court. When he knocked down a jumper right on the 3-point line to put his team up 45-43, he playfully looked to the home crowd at the Lumpkin Center for approval.
The offensive fireworks were nothing new for the All-PBC First Teamer, who led his team in scoring with 19.9 points per game.
Earlier this season, he became the sixth player in CSU history to score more than 40 points in a single game with 41 points against Georgia Southwestern. He crossed the 30-point mark for the fifth time this season Saturday finishing with a game-high 35.
Baker wasn’t thinking about any of that success after the game. He put the loss on his shoulders pointing to his disappointing performance at the free throw line, 18 of 26, as a key reason for the loss.
“I missed a lot of free throws and I feel like that played a big part in the loss,” Baker said. “I have to step to the line and make those.”
Augusta advances to the championship game on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against a Lander team that beat Montevallo 71-70.
Columbus State will wait for the NCAA Southeast Region pairings to be announced on Sunday.
AUGUSTA UNIVERSITY (18-10)
Keshun Sherrill 3-10 13-15 19; Tyvez Monroe 5-9 1-1 14; Tommy Williams 4-94-4 12; Tamyrik Fields 4-7 2-2 10; Keith Crump 3-4 0-0 7; Ja'Shawn Brooks1-7 4-4 6; Deane Williams 2-4 0-1 4; Ben Ursich 1-1 0-0 3; Trevor Foreman0-2 2-2 2; Andrew Parker 0-1 0-0 0; Aaron Byrd 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-55 26-2977.
COLUMBUS STATE (21-7)
Cam Baker 8-15 18-26 35; JaCori Payne 5-7 5-6 16; DeMarcus McVay 1-6 7-8 9;Brentine Taylor 3-4 0-0 6; Brent Jackson 1-8 1-2 3; Arben Camaj 1-5 0-0 2;Darren Daniel 1-5 0-0 2; Marcus Dixon 0-0 0-0 0; Matthias Sigurdarson 0-00-0 0; Demetres Abrams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-51 31-42 73.
Augusta University............ 39 38 - 77
Columbus State................ 38 35 - 73
3-point goals--Augusta University 5-16 (Tyvez Monroe 3-6; Ben Ursich 1-1;Keith Crump 1-2; Ja'Shawn Brooks 0-3; Trevor Foreman 0-1; Aaron Byrd 0-1;Keshun Sherrill 0-2), Columbus State 2-13 (Cam Baker 1-3; JaCori Payne 1-3;Brent Jackson 0-2; Arben Camaj 0-2; Darren Daniel 0-2; Demetres Abrams 0-1).Fouled out--Augusta University-Ben Ursich; Deane Williams, ColumbusState-Brent Jackson. Rebounds--Augusta University 37 (Tyvez Monroe 7; TommyWilliams 7), Columbus State 33 (DeMarcus McVay 9). Assists--AugustaUniversity 15 (Keshun Sherrill 3; Aaron Byrd 3; Trevor Foreman 3), ColumbusState 6 (Cam Baker 4). Total fouls--Augusta University 34, Columbus State24. Technical fouls--Augusta University-Tyvez Monroe; TEAM, ColumbusState-Brent Jackson. A-1217