CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio - The No. 2 seed Columbus State men's basketball team defeated No. 3 seed Lakeland in an intense battle on Friday night, resulting in an 86-83 overtime victory. The Cougars now advance to the District Championship game to take on No. 5 seed Cuyahoga Community College on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Freshman Rodney Willis (pictured right) led all scorers with a career and game high 29 points, grabbed six rebounds, and tied for a game-high four steals. He shot 11-for-20 from the field and 5-for-6 from the foul line. Willis was excited how everyone played. "The team really shared the ball and kept fighting," he said. "We were able to find open shots and get the job done".
Sophomore Nic Williams nearly missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds while Robert Caldwell rounded out the double figure scoring with 11 points. Freshman John Montgomery tallied eight points, shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.
Sophomore Lamarr Barnes had a well-rounded game with six points, a team-high 10 rebounds, three steals, one block, and one assist. Kenneth Moore, Donte Smith, and Chris Byrd each contributed six points. Moore also dished out a game-high five assists. Patrick Ngene-Igwe finished with two points, two assists, three rebounds, and four blocks.
"Grind, grind, grind. We've been doubted all season and came out ready to fight, said Coach Ed Thompson. "Everyone contributed tonight, even the guys who didn't play. Our bench was energetic, cheering guys on, and talking to them when they came out of the game."
As a team, the Cougars shot 45.9 percent , including scoring 52 points in the paint. Columbus State and Lakeland each committed 17 turnovers and the Cougars were able to capitalize, scoring 26 points off of them, compared to Lakeland's nine points.
The win was certainly sweet, especially for a team that was at the bottom of the pre-season polls. According to Coach Thompson, "It was an intense but wonderful game."