Columbia guard Devin Griffin made the go-ahead field goal with 46 seconds remaining to lift No. 1-seeded Columbia (Mo.) to a 66-64 win over Hope International (Calif.) at the 2013 Buffalo-Funds NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. The Cougars will play LSU Shreveport in the quarterfinal round on Saturday at 4 p.m. CDT. The event is held at Municipal Auditorium.
A back-and-forth finish to a thrilling contest was up for grabs until the final moments with the lead changing hands four times in the final 1:27. Trailing by four points with 3:14 remaining, Hope International’s Orlando Collins converted a field goal before making 1-of-2 free throws after a pair at the charity stripe by Jeremy Kilgore for a 62-61 lead at the 1:27 mark.
Griffin pushed the Cougars (35-0) back in front with a bucket with 1:15 to play before Kilgore went back to the line to convert two more free throws. The last field goal of the game also was delivered by Griffin, who drove into the lane and hit a runner in traffic for the last of eight lead changes.
Hope International led 54-47 with 9:49 to play after two free throws by Kris Rosales and had been in front since the 15:03 mark of the first half following a field goal by Austin Sanford. Columbia responded with 13-straight points over 4:44 to take a 60-54 lead and set up the final series of plays.
“I thought this was going to be a defensive war,” said Columbia head coach Bob Burchard. They are just as strong defensively as we are, and every single basket was contested.”
The Cougars shot 61.1 percent (11-of-18) in the first half, but committed 12 turnovers and allowed Hope International to shoot 50.0 percent from the floor. The Royals continued to shoot well at 45.8 percent in the second half, but Columbia made 15-of-24 (.625) in the second half to offset a 2-for-7 clip at the free throw line in the final stanza.
“Columbia is a very, very good team,” said Hope International head coach Bill Czech. “We thought we could beat them and our guys put in a great effort and I am really proud of them.”
Jordan Dressler recorded team-high totals of 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars while Griffin finished with 12 points and six assists. Derrick Dilworth also chipped in with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting for Columbia.
Rosales led all scorers with 19 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds for Hope International. Kilgore hit all seven of his free throw attempts and tallied 16 points for the Royals while Collins was 7-of-9 from the field and finished with 15 points as well as eight rebounds.
Hope International ends its season at 26-8.