Columbus State Basketball Teams Soaring to Unprecedented Heights
Columbus, Ga. – At a combined 31-3, there's no Division II school in the country off to as strong of a start as the Columbus State University basketball programs. In fact, no Division I institution has combined for fewer losses than the three recorded by the CSU teams.
Louisville and Notre Dame each have taken four losses, while Division II schools Lewis (Ill.), Colorado-Colorado Springs and Indiana (Pa.) also have four. Only Columbus State stands with three at this point.
Entering Saturday's home doubleheader against Young Harris, the Columbus State women sit 16th in the latest USA Today Top 25 poll at 17-1 overall. Columbus State's men are riding a seven-game winning streak and hold a 14-2 mark.
The Lady Cougars are fresh off a 78-70 win at Lander on Tuesday night, snapping a 15-game winning streak for the Bearcats and handing them their first conference loss of the season. The loss was also the first time the Lander women had fallen on their home floor.
"We are very pleased with our success and progress so far this season," said CSU head women's basketball coach Jonathan Norton. "For a young team, we have come a long way in a relatively short period of time."
CSU is already two games clear of the field in the Peach Belt Conference's West Division at 8-1, with North Georgia and Clayton State each posting 6-3 league marks through nine games.
Junior Michelle Mitchell continues to pace the Lady Cougars offensive attack averaging 19 points per game. The Eastman, Ga. native has taken her game to another level in conference play blistering opponents to the tune of 22.6 points per game, the best mark in the PBC. Mitchell has scored at least 20 points in six consecutive games heading into Saturday.
For the Cougar men, an 8-1 conference record has kept them in stride with preseason PBC favorite Montevallo atop the West Division.
CSU head coach Robert Moore's crew is in the midst of its longest winning streak since the 2005-06 season and has already matched the 14 wins the team picked up last season. The Cougars just dispatched three consecutive opponents that entered the game with 11-2, 12-4 and 13-3 records, winning each game by at least 13 points.
"I think our team has improved a great deal on defense," Moore said. "I still feel we have to do a better job executing our half-court offense, but I like that we are sharing the ball."
Kenney Funderburk has built on an All-Conference season one year ago by ranking second in the PBC in scoring at 19.5 points per game. DeAngelo Kirkland has taken his play to new heights averaging 14.4 points and 11.5 rebounds, the only player in the conference to average a double-double.
While the current results look great, it's the finish that both teams care the most about.
"We have won games but all of our goals are still ahead of us," Norton said. "There is a big difference in winning games and winning championships. Our goal each year is to compete for the PBC regular season and tournament titles as well as the NCAA Tournament."
"We still have a ways to go to accomplish our goals of winning the Peach Belt regular season and tournament championships and receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament," commented Moore.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, the stage is set for each to continue its outstanding season.
Saturday, Columbus State will play host to Young Harris in the first of two meetings between the programs this season. The Lady Cougars are scheduled to tip at 1:30 p.m. with the men following at 3:30 p.m.