No. 1 Ranked Cougars Defend Their Title
SPRINGFIELD, IL - After a rocky start the No. 1 ranked team in the NAIA remained the only undefeated team in the NAIA as the Columbia College Cougars defeated Benedictine University-Springfield (Ill.) on the road by a final score of 60-41. The victory moves the Cougars to 25-0 on the season and 11-0 in American Midwest Conference (AMC) play.
The first half started slow offensively for both teams with just a combined 12 points being scored between both teams in the first six minutes. Training by one, a steal and a dunk by Devin Griffin gave Columbia some momentum as they turned the deficit into a ten point lead minutes later. At the half Columbia led by six, 28-22 after shooting just 37 percent from the field and allowing the host squad to shoot 44 percent. Despite being outrebounded 19-13 in the first period, the Cougars forced 15 turnovers and converted the Bulldogs' miscues into 15 points to take the advantage at the break.
The Bulldogs tied up the game at 30 three minutes into the second frame, but the Cougars jumped on top again with baskets by Tanner Sutton and Jordan Dressler. At the 12 minute mark Columbia took a 42-34 lead after a big three-pointer by sophomore Zach Rockers. Although the Bulldogs continued to fight back, Columbia maintained control of the game from that point on as Rockers would go on to hit two more three's over the next five minutes. The Cougars pulled ahead by 16 with just over six minutes remaining in regulation and that was as close as it was going to get as Columbia eventually took the 19-point win.
Columbia finished up with a 41-33 rebounding advantage. Griffin led an even attack by the visiting Cougars, scoring 13 points. Derrick Dilworth, Rockers and Dressler all finished with nine points.
Columbia is idle until Tuesday, February 12 when they take on Hannibal-LaGrange College. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Arena of Southwell Complex.