Stephen Cobb was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc
Stephen Cobb was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc

Third-Seeded Trojans Top Columbus; Move into Regional Semifinals

Box Score

MONTEVALLO, Ala. – With four players reaching double figures and senior forward Stephen Cobb’s career-high five 3-pointers, 14th-ranked and third seeded Anderson outpaced No. six seeded Columbus State, 77-64, in first-round action of the NCAA Southeast Region Saturday afternoon at Montevallo’s Bank Trust Arena. 

Anderson (25-5), the defending Southeast Region Champions, used a late second-half run fueled by Cobb’s long-range accuracy to moves on to meet the winner of the No. 2 seeded USC Aiken/No. 7 seeded Wingate matchup Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m.

The Trojans set a new school record for wins in a season, while claiming its fifth straight Southeast Regional contest going back to last year and won for the 18th time in the last 20 games. Columbus State saw its season end at 18-12.

Both teams started slowly on the offensive end, with the Trojans connecting on just three of their first 10 shots, but Columbus State was also cold from the field, making just two of its first eight, while the Trojan defense was stellar, forcing turnovers to prevent the Cougars from gaining the upper hand.

Columbus State gained an early 6-2 lead on a pair of 3-pointers, but Anderson countered by erupting on an 18-3 run. AU pulled within 6-5 on a trey by senior Tyrell McDowell from the top of circle and took its first lead at 8-6 on junior guard Denzail Jones’ first 3-pointer of the contest with 14:47 on the clock. Jones fueled the outburst with nine points and Cobb added five as the Trojans took largest lead of the opening half, at 20-9, on Jones’ steal and layup.

But CSU responded with six unanswered points to cut Anderson’s advantage to five. A deep trey from the left wing by senior Jo’el Lamb slowed the Cougars’ outburst, but Idell Bell drained another three to again trim AU’s cushion to five, then CSU cut the Trojan edge to 24-21 with 4:52 left in the opening half as part of a 12-4 surge.

Less than two minutes later, sophomore Chandler Hash nailed a triple to push Anderson’s lead to 30-25 with 3:03 remaining, but with Jones and Trull both on the bench with two fouls, CSU connected on four of four free throws inside the final three minutes and the Cougars climbed within 32-31 at the half.

The first seven minutes of the second half featured the only four ties of the game, but Columbus State was never able to regain the lead.  Lamb worked inside to give Anderson a narrow 42-40 lead with 14:24 remaining, but the Cougars answered on the other end.

Jones’ basket snapped the 42-42 deadlock, giving the Trojans a lead they would not surrender and they pushed out to 50-44 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from Cobb, first from the left side, then the right wing.

AU maintained the margin for the next two minutes, then closed the game with a 16-8 run.

Jones and Cobb shared game-high scoring honors with 17 points apiece, with Taylor Shugart notching his fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Cobb was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc, while McDowell added 12 points and shared game-high assist honors with Jones, as both dished out five.

Bell led the Cougars with 17 points, with Dimitri Davis netting 16. Steve Peterson chipped in 12 points.

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