COLUMBUS, GA – The North Georgia men's basketball team got back on track on Saturday evening, traveling to Columbus State University and pulling out a 65-60 victory over the Cougars in the Lumpkin Center Peach Belt Conference action.
The Saints jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead on a pair of jumpers by Robby Goldsmith and Brody Langston. Darius Mcknight connected on the first bucket of the game for CSU cutting the lead to 4-2 just over a minute into the game.
Five points from Goldsmith fueled an 8-2 run for the Saints as they stretched their lead to 12-4 with 17:27 to play in the first half.
Columbus State would respond with an 11-3 run of its own, capped off by a Steve Peterson three-pointer at the 12:32 mark, knotting the game up at 15-15.
Following a missed jumper by Clarence Tillman, a Jarmarquis Steverson basket gave Columbus State its first lead of the game at 17-15 with 11:44 left before halftime. From that point, CSU netted just two points the next 6:24 minutes of play with the lone field goal coming off a Jonathan Murphy jumper.
North Georgia would capitalize on the CSU dry spell, going on a 10-2 run, putting them back in front 25-19 with 5:44 remaining in the half.
Columbus State would clamp down defensively in the final five minutes of play allowing just five Saints points. The Cougars used an 11-5 run to claw their way back into the game, eventually tying the game at 30-30 on a pair of Andrew Houts free throws with under a minute left in the half.
Neither team was able to find the basket in the final fifty seconds sending the game into the break with the scored tied at 30.
North Georgia netted six quick points to start the second half, jumping out to a 36-30 lead with 17:31 left to play.
Once again CSU would respond, reeling off an 11-0 run capped off by a Steve Peterson three-pointer with just over 12 minutes to play, giving CSU a 41-36 advantage. Peterson scored seven of the team's 11 points during the spurt.
The lead would once again change hands as the Saints stormed back to take a 46-45 lead on a Carl Taylor three with 6:38 remaining in the game.
Two Paul Darkwa free throws gave Columbus State the lead right back at 47-46 as the two teams continued to battle back and forth. North Georgia led by two on three occasions over the next three minutes but the Cougars proved up to the task fighting back to tie the game twice, the final time at 53-53 on Darius Mcknight layup with 2:08 to play.
Clarence Tillman would then take over for North Georgia as the junior forward netted a layup to give North Georgia a two-point lead at 55-53. Tillman then stole the ball from Lamar Williams and finished the play off with a one-handed jam, putting the Saints up 57-53 with 1:11 left in the game.
That would be all the Saints would need down the stretch, as CSU would get no closer than four the rest of the way. North Georgia would connect on 8-of-10 free throws in the final minute to escape with the 65-60 victory.
North Georgia was led by Tillman who registered a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Taylor chipped in 13 points in 35 minutes of action, while Robby Goldsmith and Chaun Tinney added 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Saints were 21-of-44 (47.7%) from the field, including 5-of-14 (35.7%) from three-point range.
Steve Peterson poured in 20 points to lead the CSU offensive attack. Andrew Houts and Paul Darkwa both added 11 as the only other players to reach double figures for Columbus State. Columbus State shot just 37.9 percent for the game and 6-of-18 from deep. The Cougars were 10-of-16 (62.5%) from the free-throw line for the day.
The Saints return to action on Wednesday evening, traveling to Francis Marion for another Peach Belt Conference contest. Tip-off against the Patriots is set for 7:30 p.m. in Florence, South Carolina.