Late Three Helps Columbus State Edge Pirate Men's Basketball, 88-82

Late Three Helps Columbus State Edge Pirate Men's Basketball, 88-82

COLUMBUS, Ga. -  Darius Joell's three-pointer with 38 seconds left gave the Columbus State University men's basketball team a two-possession lead, which the Cougars held onto for an 86-82 Peach Belt Conference victory over visiting Armstrong State University on Monday evening in Columbus.

The Pirates (6-8, 1-4 PBC) dropped their third straight contest, while Columbus State improved to 10-2 overall and 3-2 in the PBC with the win. Armstrong State returns to action on Saturday, hosting Clayton State at 3:30 p.m. for Military Appreciation Day at Alumni Arena.

Columbus State shot 59 percent from the floor in the first half, building a 43-39 lead at the break. The Cougars extended that lead to 10 points, 49-39, on an Arben Camaj three-pointer just a minute and a half into the second half, but the Pirates would work back to tie the game at 68-all on a KJ James jumper with 5:14 left.

The Pirates would take their first lead of the second half on Corey Tillery's basket with 3:41 remaining, making the score 74-72, but the Cougars' JaCori Payne would answer on the next possession with a three-pointer to put CSU back in front, 74-72, with 3:15 left.

With just a minute left in the contest, a three-pointer from Montrel Goldston cut the Cougars lead back to one, 81-80, but Joell would hit the clinching three with 38 seconds left for the four-point 84-80 lead. The Pirates would miss two three-point tries in their next two possessions and Joell would hit 4-of-4 free throws in the final 14 seconds to preserve the win.

James would pace a quartet of Pirates in double figures on the night, scoring 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-4 three-pointers, while adding 11 rebounds for the double-double. Denzel Council would collect 20 points, while Tillery finished with 17 points and Goldston would add 13 points off the bench.

Payne's game-high 25 points led the Cougars on the evening, with Camaj adding 14 points and Joell finishing with 12 points.

Columbus State finished the night hitting 52.5 percent from the floor (32-of-61) and 50 percent from three-point range (13-of-26), while shooting just 55 percent from the free throw line (11-of-20). The Pirates shot 45.6 percent from the floor (31-of-68) but struggled from long range, hitting just 9-of-31 threes (29 percent). Armstrong State would hit 11-of-14 free throws on the night for 78.6 percent.