The Columbus State University men’s basketball team erased a 14-point second half deficit, but came up on the wrong side of a 73-69 contest against UNC Pembroke on Saturday.
The Peach Belt Conference contest was played in the Lumpkin Center.
Columbus State (3-8, 3-5 PBC) faced its largest deficit of the game at 59-45 with 10:36 to play. Marcus Dixon split a pair of free throws and Jalen Thomas followed with a pair of buckets to cut the margin to nine. A technical foul against the Braves gave CSU two more points, but UNCP pushed the lead back out to 10 at 62-52 at the eight-minute mark.
After an empty possession each way, JaCori Payne and Darius Joell hit back-to-back 3s to pull within four. Down five with under five to go, Thomas completed a three-point play and Joell followed with a layup to tie the game at 64-all.
UNC Pembroke (11-3, 7-1) took back the lead 67-64, but it was another Thomas three-point play that tied the game and then the junior picked up a steal and Payne put the Cougars in front 69-67 with two minutes on the clock.
UNCP later tied the game with a baseline jumper and the Cougars had the ball with 51 seconds, but a five-second violation on the inbounds gave the Braves possession back. CSU committed a foul on the ensuing play and two free throws put UNCP in front. Thomas had a mid-range look to tie the game, but his attempt came up short and the Braves closed out the contest.
“I was proud of the way the guys fought today,” head coach Robert Moore said. “Jalen did the right thing with the shot at the end, but sometimes they don’t go in.”
Payne led all scorers with 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and knocked down all eight free throws. Thomas tallied a season-high 14 points, while Joell added 12 and Dixon finished with 11.
The Cougars were 25-for-69 (36.2 percent) from the field on the afternoon and 6-for-20 from outside. Columbus State will play the second of three straight home games Monday against Francis Marion. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.