Montevallo survives scare against Columbus State

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The University of Montevallo men’s basketball team survived a late scare by Columbus State University on the road 64-60 in a Peach Belt Conference contest Feb. 15.

The Falcons (19-6 overall, 10-4 in Peach Belt Conference) were led by senior D.J. Rivera, who scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Senior Antoine Davis chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and five assists, while senior DeMarcus Catchings controlled the boards grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring eight points.

Montevallo outrebounded the Cougars 39-29 thanks to Catchings’ 11 boards and junior Drico Hightower’s seven rebounds.

Montevallo shot 38.3 percent from the field, including 46.7 percent from 3-point range. Montevallo struggled from the free-throw line, hitting just 67.7 percent. The Cougars shot 36.2 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-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. Montevallo responded with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 33-33.

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 gave the Falcons a one-point halftime lead, 38-37.

The second half was much like the first, but with Columbus State 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 3-pointers to give the Falcons a 58-52 lead.

Columbus State responded with its own 6-0 run to tie the game at 58-58 with 2:53 to play. On the Falcons’ next possession, Montevallo forward Marvin Fitzgerald found himself at the top of the key with no time left to drive with only one second left on the shot clock. He threw up a 3-pointer and hit nothing but net for his first 3-pointer of the year to give the Falcons a small lead.

A jump shot cut Montevallo’s lead to one point, but Davis hit 1-of-2 free throws to give the Falcons a 62-60 lead with 1:49 left. After a missed 3-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. Columbus State called back-to-back timeouts to set up their final play.

Montevallo 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.

Montevallo now owns 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 West Division’s top seed in the Peach Belt Conference tournament.

The Falcons will return to action this Saturday, Feb. 18 at 3:30 p.m. as they host Western Division rival Georgia College and State University.