AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team was unable to withstand a second half push from Columbus State on Wednesday evening in the Storm Dome and dropped a 68-62 decision to the Cougars in the Peach Belt Conference action.
The Hurricanes lost their fifth-straight game and fell to 5-7 overall, 0-5 in the PBC while Columbus State improved to 10-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play.
GSW pounced on the Cougars at the onset, scoring the first eight points of the game. After Josh Birchfield opened with a layup, the Hurricanes drained a trio of 3-pointers to eventually open an 11-4 advantage with 15:54 left in the first period.
A 6-1 run pulled Columbus State within a basket, but the Hurricanes scored five unanswered to push the margin back to six points at 17-11 with 10:43 remaining before the break. GSW maintained its advantage and looked to take a seven point lead, 28-21, into the locker room until Kenny Funderburk sank a desperation heave at the buzzer from behind the half-court stripe to give Columbus State some momentum heading into the second stanza.
The final 20 minutes proved to be a back-and-forth affair as there were five ties and three lead changes. The Cougars ouscored GSW, 9-2, in the first three minutes of the period to grab their first lead of the evening. Damien Leonard helped the Hurricanes reclaim the lead one final time, 37-36, with his jumper at the 14:28 mark and Darius Redding extended the margin to three points with a dunk on the next GSW possession.
The Hurricanes missed their next five shots and Columbus State scored five unanswered points to regain the lead. While GSW would force two more tied scores, they would never lead again.
Columbus State finished with a higher shooting percentage (44.9%) than GSW (41.7%) and made 10 more trips to the free throw line. The Hurricanes won the rebounding battle, 34-30, but committed five more turnovers, 17-12. For the fifth time this season, Southwestern finished with a higher 3-point shooting percentage (42.9) than overall field goal percentage (41.7).
Redding scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds for the Hurricanes. Deric Rudolph matched his teammate with 16 points, fueled by 5 of 8 shooting from long range. Leonard added 13 points and a team-high four assists.
CSU was a two-man show with Funderburk and DeAngelo Kirkland. Funderburk scored 22 points and Kirkland threw in 21 to go with seven rebounds.
Southwestern travels to Young Harris for a 3:30 p.m. game on Saturday.