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GSW men upend conference leader Columbus State

COLUMBUS – The Georgia Southwestern men’s basketball team accomplished something on Jan. 30 that nine other schools were unable to do this season, defeat Columbus State in the Lumpkin Center. GSW rallied from a nine-point deficit over the final 7 1/2 minutes to win, 63-62.

The Hurricanes have won five of their last seven games and improved their overall record to 10-9 while moving to 5-7 in Peach Belt Conference play. Columbus State sees its nine-game winning streak snapped and falls to 16-3 overall, 10-2 in the PBC. CSU entered the game tied with Montevallo for the best record in league play.

A 7-1 run midway through the opening half, capped by a jumper from Cameron Venus, gave Southwestern its largest lead of the afternoon, six points, at 19-13. The Cougars responded with 15 unanswered points and led 28-19 with 5:41 left in the first. CSU stretched the margin to a game-high 10 points at 30-20 and took a 32-25 lead into the locker room at the half.

GSW scored the first five points of the second period to pull within a bucket, but CSU slowly built its lead back to nine points and hit the nine-point cushion on three different occasions, the last coming off three Kenney Funderburk free throws which made the score 55-46 with 7:22 to play.

Kevin Burnell scored six unanswered points for GSW over a 45 second span by knocking down a shot and four straight free throws to kick start the final push for Southwestern. The Hurricanes regained the lead with 24 seconds remaining after a pair of Deric Rudolph free throws. The GSW comeback was aided by stout defense as GSW forced three turnovers in the final 1:12.

The Cougars finished with a slightly higher shooting percentage (40.8 percent) than GSW (37.0 percent) and accounted for three more steals, 6-3. GSW won the battle on boards, 36-33, and made three more 3-pointers, 6-3.

Darius Redding led all scorers with 20 points. Redding made 6 of 12 shots and 8 of 11 free throws for the Hurricanes. Rudolph added 14 points. GSW played without starter Josh Birchfield in the second half due to injury and Venus, another starter, down the stretch as he fouled out with 8:21 to play.

Funderburk paced CSU with 18 points. DeAngelo Kirkland added 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Ty Harris chipped in 11 points while B.J. Battle scored 10.

Southwestern travels to Montevallo, the new leader in the Peach Belt standings, on Feb. 4 for an 8:30 p.m. game.