Falcons Survive Trip to Columbus, 64-60
COLUMBUS, Ga. – The University of Montevallo men's basketball team (19-6, 10-4 PBC) survived a late scare by Columbus State University (13-10, 8-6 PBC) on the road, 64-60. The Falcons were led by senior D.J. Rivera (Philadelphia, Pa./Binghamton University) who scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior Antoine Davis (Washington, D.C./College of the Desert) chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and five assists while senior DeMarcus Catchings (Arlington, Texas/Cedar Valley College) controlled the boards grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring eight points.
UM out-rebounded the Cougars 39-29 thanks to Catchings 11 boards and junior Drico Hightower's (Augusta, Ga./Angelina College) seven.
UM shot 38.3 percent from the field including 46.7 percent from three-point range. UM struggled from the free throw line hitting just 67.7 percent. The Cougars shot 36.2 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three-point range. They connected on 71.4 percent of their charity stripe attempts.
The first half was a tightly contested period with the Falcons holding the lead for most of the period. With 9:41 left in the period and the Falcons up 25-22 the Cougars began a 9-0 run to take a six point lead with 5:51 to play. UM responded with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 33. After a few free throws and a lay-up the Cougars held a three-point lead with 1:10 to play but a pair of free throws from Catchings and a pair of free throws from junior Jonas Brown (Tifton, Ga./Tift County) gave the Falcons a one-point halftime lead, 38-37.
The second half was much like the first but with CSU holding the lead in the early going. With the Falcons down 52-50 with 9:05 to play Rivera went on an 8-0 run connecting on a pair of free throws and a pair of three-pointers to give the Falcons a 58-52 lead. CSU responded with its own 6-0 run to tie the game at 58 with 2:53 to play. On the Falcons next possession the shot clock was running down and with one second left UM forward Marvin Fitzgerald (Milwaukee, Wisc./North Carolina Central) found himself at the top of the key with no time left to drive. He threw up a three-pointer and hit nothing but net for his first three of the year to give the Falcons a small lead.
A jump shot cut UM's lead to one but Davis hit one of two free throws to give the Falcons a 62-60 lead with 1:49 left. After a missed three-pointer by the Cougars the Falcons had the ball with just over a minute to play. On the ensuing play two Falcons collided giving the Cougars a breakaway but Catchings sped down the court and connected on a huge block to keep the Falcons in the lead. After a pair of missed free throws by the Falcons the Cougars had the ball on their side of the court with just six seconds to play. CSU called back-to-back timeouts to set up their final play. UM countered with a timeout of its own which built up the tension for the final play. The Cougars ran a perfectly executed play and found themselves with a wide-open layup under their own hoop. The Cougar was unable to connect and Davis grabbed the rebound and was fouled with two second left. Davis connected on both free throws to seal the game, 64-60.
UM now has sole possession of first place in the Peach Belt Conference Western Division and holds a two-game lead over the Cougars. The Falcons need to win just one more game to clinch the number one seed for the PBC Tournament.
The Falcons will return to action this Saturday, Feb. 18 at 3:30 p.m. as they host PBC Western Division rival Georgia College and State University.