Cougar Men Edge Out Avila
COLUMBIA -- The Cougar men's basketball team, ranked No. 10 in the NAIA Preseason Top 25 poll, overcame a halftime deficit and won on the road at Avila (Mo.) University on Saturday night by the score of 58-57. Columbia improves 2-0 on the year, while the Eagles fall to 1-1.
The first half saw both teams struggle on the offensive end as Avila took a 27-26 lead into the locker room despite shooting just 34 percent from the field. The Cougars shot slightly better at 37 percent, but were outrebounded 23-16 by the Eagles. Junior Derrick Dilworth led Columbia with eight points in the opening period.
The defensive struggle would continue on into the second half, with Avila taking their biggest lead of the contest at 46-40 with just over nine minutes remaining. The Cougars would reel off eight straight points to take a 48-46 lead, capped off by a Tanner Sutton three-point field goal. That advantage would be short lived as the Eagles responded with a 7-0 run of their own to take a 53-48 lead with less than three minutes to go in regulation.
Columbia pulled within one during the final minute after two Devin Griffin free throws made the score 56-55. However, Avila connected on a pair of free throws to make the score 57-55 on their next possession. With fifteen seconds to go in the game, Jordan Dressler came up with a key steal that allowed Griffin to get to the paint and tie the game while also drawing a foul on the play. He would sink the go-ahead free throw to put the Cougars up 58-57, and Columbia would hold on over the final 10 seconds for the win.
The Eagles outrebounded Columbia 42-29 for the game, but shot just 22 for 60 (36 percent) from the field and 5 of 8 (62 percent) at the free throw line. The Cougars shot 42 percent for the night and went 10 of 14 (71 percent) at the foul line.
Dilworth led all scorers with 15 points and also added a game-high five assists. Griffin finished with 14 points and Sutton chipped in 10.
Sedrick Johnson led the Eagles with 13 points.
The Cougars return to action on Wednesday, November 12th when they travel to Fayette, Missouri for a road match-up with Central Methodist (Mo.) University. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.