Columbus State utilizes its deep bench to outlast Dakota County, advances to semifinals in consolation bracket

Columbus State utilizes its deep bench to outlast Dakota County, advances to semifinals in consolation bracket

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.