DANVILLE, Illinois – The Columbus State men's basketball team defeated the Dakota County Tech Blue Knights Wednesday evening 77-64 to advance to the semifinal round of the NJCAA DII consolation bracket. The win, which comes a day after a heavy 23-point loss to Essex County, is largely due to solid performances from players off the bench. Columbus State's bench outscored Dakota County's reserves, 40-18.
"We were led by our bench today", said Coach Thompson. "That was the key. We were led by guys who were a little bit hungrier. I just can't say enough about them".
John Montgomery came off the bench to register 14 points, going 4-for-6 from the field and 6-for-9 from the line. Montgomery also dished out a career and team high three assists along with three rebounds and two steals.
Leading the Cougars' offense was Rodney Willis with a team-high 16 points, shooting 5-for-9 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line. Willis also grabbed four rebounds and a team-high three steals. Nic Williams also posted double figures with 12 points as well as eight rebounds and a steal.
Columbus State led 33-27 at halftime and maintained the lead through the rest of the game. The Cougars finished with a 44.6 percent shooting percentage from the field and a much improved 58.5 percent from the charity stripe. Although Columbus State was out-rebounded 38-49, they shot the ball more efficiently and allowed a significantly less number of turnovers (16-29) than hte Blue Knights.
Reserves Travon Hester and Donte Smith each tallied nine points and snatched three and one rebound respectively. Robert Caldwell sunk in seven points while Patrick Ngene-Igwe had five. Ngene-Igwe also added four rebounds and a game-high two blocks. Kenneth Moore and Lamarr Barnes chipped in two points and two rebounds apiece.
The Cougars will play the winner of the Frederick-South Mountain game on Friday, March 18 at 12:00PM ET / 11:00AM CT. If they win that game, they move onto the final consolation round to play for a 7th place national finish on Saturday, March 19.