Cougars stun No. 1 Wildcats advancing to Crossroads Championship

College Sports

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – On Saturday afternoon, the RV University of Saint Francis Cougars (24-7; 10-7 Crossroads) traveled to Marian, Indiana to face the No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (29-2; 15-2 Crossroads) in the Crossroads League Tournament semifinals, after their big win Wednesday night against the Grace Lancers, and won 106-79 to not only advance to the Crossroads Tournament championship, but snapped a 51-game winning streak for the Wildcats at home.

“Anytime you can come in and beat the No. 1 country on their home court is a testament to our guys,” Head Coach Chad LaCross said. “Coach Luke Cummings did a great job of scouting their team, and getting our guys ready, and our communications level was outstanding for 40 minutes.”

The Cougars came out strong right from the start. After both teams fought to a 7-7 tie to open the game, senior guard Lance Dollison made a three-pointer to put Saint Francis ahead 10-7 at the 17:09 mark.

For the remainder of the first half, the Cougars played the best basketball they had played all season. Big offensive plays by junior guard Antwaan Cushingberry, sophomore forward David Ejah, junior guard Jalan Mull, Lance Dollison, and contributions off the bench kept Saint Francis in the lead for the remainder of the frame.

On defense, David Ejah and junior forward Jeffrey Reynolds made numerous big plays, blocked shots, and kept the Wildcats offense off-balance.

At the 7:05 mark, the Cougars had extended their lead to 14 points, then at 5:53 to 18 points, and then 20 points with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.

Against all odds, the Cougars led the Wildcats 51-31 going to halftime. Dollison and Cushingberry each had double-digit points in the first half to combine for 26 points between the two of them. The Cougars went 21-for-35 from inside the paint.

Going into the second half, the Cougars picked up where they left off, extending their lead to 24 points three and a half minutes into the second frame. Their offense was even stronger in the second half as Saint Francis put up 58 points in the final 20 minutes against the best team in the NAIA on their home court.

By the end of it all, the Cougars had shocked the Wildcats and their fans, winning their seventh consecutive game in runaway fashion.

“It feels amazing!” Antwaan Cushingberry said after the huge win. “My teammates and I came in focused; we had been preparing all week for this game, and the winning streak we’ve been on shows how we’ve been playing together lately.”

Throughout the game, the Cougars shot 60 percent from the floor, 51 percent from beyond the three-point line, and 62 percent from the free throw line. Lance Dollison had a career game with a team-leading 25 points and eight rebounds. Antwaan Cushingberry followe suit with 24 points of his own and a team-leading 10 assists.

On defense, Jeffrey Reynolds had two blocks, Dan McKeeman had three steals, and the Cougars had 10 steals total throughout the game.

“Going into Tuesday’s game, I feel great about our team and have felt good the last month or month and a half. Our guys are playing at another level.”

The Cougars now await their opponent for the Crossroads League Championship game taking place on Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm with the location yet to be determined.

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