The Cougars’ only lead of the contest didn’t last for long.
From almost start to finish, UNCP stepped on the throttle and dominated the glass on its way to a 82-56 win, the program’s 11th straight at home and sixth all-time over Columbus State. The Peach Belt Conference’s leading rebounders snared 53 misses — 23 more than the opposition — and held a 33-16 advantage on second-chance points.
Senior George Blakeney pulled down a game-high 12 boards and scored 18 points to compliment a 14-point outing from freshman guard Quamain Rose, the PBC’s league leader in steals. Forwards Brandon Winford and Ben Jacobs combined for 23 to lead the front court.
UNCP (10-5, 3-2) has now out-rebounded its opponent in 11 straight games.
“At times, our defense was really good and really disruptive,” UNCP coach Ben Miller said. “To rebound as well as we did speaks volumes for the effort given by our players. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Columbus State and their program. It was a really good win, but we have to keep it in perspective with another game tomorrow and the road trip coming up.”
The Braves’ seven-day layoff following last weekend’s nationally-ranked win over Augusta State showed early as UNCP was able to out-run the Cougars with fresh legs and build a 21-point lead at intermission. Over the final 93 seconds of the first half, the Braves forced three turnovers and went on a 6-0 run to commence the rout.
“We look pretty good in spurts, I just wish they were longer,” Miller said. “Our fans have been great the last two games and the community is getting behind our team. That helps out a lot.”
UNCP (10-5, 3-2) hosts Georgia Southwestern today at 3:30 p.m. before embarking on a crucial four-game road trip that includes stops at PBC West leader Montevallo and Augusta State. A similar swing away from Pembroke last season resulted in three crushing losses that ultimately kept the Braves out of the NCAA Tournament.
“We feel like we’re in a good position to make some noise,” Blakeney said. “We don’t want to slip up and make the same mistakes we made last year. If we keep grinding and keep playing the best we can, I think we’ll back back at the end of the year.”
Brackett missed the second half of Saturday’s game with a foot injury. He was in a walking boot on the bench and team officials do not expect for him to play in today’s contest with Georgia Southwestern.