Columbus State University

CSU men blow out Lander in Peach Belt opener

COLUMBUS – A blistering first half shooting performance helped the Columbus State University men’s basketball team to a 98-63 victory over Lander on Saturday. The Peach Belt Conference game was played inside the Lumpkin Center.

Five Cougars scored in double figures, led by JaCori Payne’s 15. Darius Joell and Vic Ellis each went for 13, while John Lambert and Rudy Winters finished with 12 and 10, respectively.

“It was good to see us bounce back after a slow start to the season,” head coach Robert Moore. “We shot the ball well today, but I was most proud of our defense and the way it led to easy shots on the other end.”

It didn’t take long for Columbus State (1-3, 1-0 PBC) to open up a double-digit advantage, using a 9-1 run early in the first half to jump in front 17-7.

Up 17-9, the Cougars scored 14 unanswered points to blow the game open. Payne started the run, which included a Joell dunk after Michael Graham forced a turnover.

The 3-pointers were falling in bunches for the Cougars in the first half as CSU buried three in a row during a 15-1 stretch the opened up a 33-point lead at 46-13.

Lander (2-4, 0-2) would score the final 10 points of the first half however, cutting Columbus State’s lead to 46-23 at halftime. The Cougars made 17 of their first 20 shots in the game and ended the first half at 70.8 percent as a team.

CSU would ease its way through the second half, never allowing the lead to get below 25 over the final 20 minutes.

Columbus State ended the game at 64.3 percent (36-for-56) from the floor and 10-of-19 from the 3-point line. The Cougars forced 20 turnovers and turned them into 27 points.

The Cougars have 15 days before their next game, when they head to UNC Pembroke on Dec. 17.