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Columbia College men's basketball rolls into second round at NAIA national tournament

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 10:24 p.m. CDT; updated 10:58 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 13, 2013

KANSAS CITY — Jordan Dressler, the center on the Columbia College men's basketball team, doesn’t like to shoot 3-pointers with too much time left on the shot clock.

Even though he is the reigning two-time American Midwest Conference Player of the Year, even though he’s shot 42.5 percent this season from 3-point range, he prefers to leave long-range shooting to the guards. When he does shoot them, he will tell you it's because he has to.

Early in the first half of Wednesday’s opening-round game at the NAIA national championship tournament, there was no other option. The 6-foot-8 Dressler found himself with the ball about 23 feet from the hoop, a defender all over him and the shot clock winding down. 

With one second to shoot, he lifted off the court and launched his shot. It hung in the air for a second as Dressler drifted from view, taking the defender with him. Then as time ran out, it banked off the glass and through the net.

“When he banked that three, it was like an explosion,” coach Bob Burchard said. “He energized everybody.”

"We smelled blood in the water at that point," Dressler said.

There are many ways to highlight just how lopsided Columbia College’s 68-37 win over Oklahoma City University was, but maybe the best is that shot. While Dressler and the Cougars (34-0) repeatedly pulled off the improbable, their opponent struggled with the mundane. 

Oklahoma City shot an abysmal 13-for-61 from the floor, missing everything from 3-pointers to free throws to uncontested layups by sometimes laughable margins. They didn't total 20 points until the 10-minute mark in the second half. Before that, it was outscored by Dressler alone. 

Burchard called the first half "as strong a defensive performance that we can put together" and attributed the effort to the Cougars being able to prevent opposing guards from driving the lane. 

But even when they broke down the first line of defense, Dressler was there. The senior gobbled up 13 rebounds, blocked three shots and altered more with his towering presence.

In the first minute of the second half, Oklahoma City forward Kaleb Smith drove into the lane and attempted a four-foot hook shot over Dressler. Because Smith faded away, Dressler didn't jump to try and block it. But at the last second Smith caught a glimpse of Dressler and held up. He shot an air-ball.

"He's the anchor of our team, without question," Burchard said. "We use that term literally."

Dressler was perhaps even more impressive on the offensive end, shooting 9-for-13 from the floor to finish with 21 points. 

"He had a great practice today, and I said, 'Oh man, he's into it," Burchard said. "You could see it in his eyes."

The Cougars allowed just 12 points in the first half, which they played mostly without starting point guard Devin Griffin and forward Marquette Murrell, who both fell victim to foul trouble early. 

But the interchangeable nature of Columbia College's roster and Oklahoma City's atrocious shooting combined to allow the Cougars to steadily pull away. With Murrell on the bench, forwards Ben Bowman and Brock Walker saw significant minutes. Chantel Stanciel and Tanner Sutton handled the ball in the absence of Griffin. The two guards combined for eight assists. 

Columbia College advances to play Hope International (26-7) from Fullerton, Calif., at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.


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