Cougars dream season comes to an end in NAIA Quarterfinals
KANSAS CITY, MO -- The Cougar men's basketball team saw its dream season come to an end tonight as they fell to LSU-Shreveport (La.) 79-78 in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I National Championships. Columbia, the tournament's top overall seed, ends the year with an overall record of 35-1, establishing a new school record for victories in a single season and went a full year without losing a game. With the win, the Pilots improve to 27-6 and advance to Monday's tournament semifinal to take on Georgetown (Ky.) College.
Sophomore Tanner Sutton got the Cougars off to a fast start with a trio of three-pointers in the first two minutes of play, as Columbia jumped out to a 9-2 lead at the 17:55 mark. The Cougars led by as many as 11 in the first half, but LSU-Shreveport connected on five of ten attempts from behind the arc against the NAIA's top defense during the opening frame to pull within six at halftime, 42-36. Columbia shot 55 percent from the field in the first period and was led by senior Jordan Dressler with 13 points at the break.
The Pilots pulled within two at 46-44 to start the second half, but the Cougars were able to stretch their lead back out to nine at 57-48 over the next three and a half minutes. LSU-Shreveport battled back once again to grab their first lead of the contest at 61-60 with 10:14 to play in regulation. The two squads would trade the lead four times over the next four minutes with the Pilots taking a 72-69 advantage at the 4:05 mark. Columbia would cut the LSU lead to one on three different occasions during the next three minutes as they trailed 76-75 with under a minute remaining. However, the Cougars were unable to convert on their final two possessions and the Pilots hit three free throws over the final 11 seconds to secure the upset victory.
LSU-Shreveport, the NAIA's top scoring offense at 92 points per game, shot 46 percent from the field and eight of 20 (40 percent) from behind the three-point line on the night. More importantly, the Pilots also converted 19 of 23 attempts (83 percent) at the charity stripe. Columbia shot 51 percent from the floor for the game and owned a slight 31-29 advantage on the glass.
Dressler logged a team-high 26 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in his final collegiate game to lead the Cougars. In three tournament games, the senior averaged 21.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Fellow senior Marquette Murrell chipped in 11 points and seven boards, while Sutton finished with 15 points on five of seven shooting from three-point range. Saturday night's contest also marked the final game for Columbia seniors Ben Bowman and Hal Payne.
"This year has been amazing, the most amazing ride of my career," said head coach Bob Burchard. "We sat down at the beginning of the year and said, wouldn't it be amazing if we really enjoyed being together, lived in the moment and had fun together, and we really were. These guys are just amazing people to be around."