The Rogers State men's basketball team battled to its third win in five days to stay perfect on the season with an 80-69 victory over Avila University (Kan.) inside the Mabee Fieldhouse on Tuesday evening.
The score was knotted three times in the first five minutes of the game. Senior Justynn Hammond added instant energy off the bench, earning a steal and a two handed jam which sparked a 7-2 run for the Cats. The Eagles quickly cut the deficit with a run of their own to tie the game 20-20. The teams traded bucket through the final minutes of the half as senior Donald Williams hit a trey just before intermission to give RSU a 36-31 advantage. Freshman J.C. Hartzler tallied a team-high 10 points at the break and the Hillcats poured in eight buckets from long distance.
Avila opened the second half with a 10-3 run, capped off by a Sam Everson three pointer, giving the Eagles a 41-39 lead. The score was tied five times in the second stanza before RSU regained the lead with an 8-0 spurt, clinging to the advantage throughout the final 12 minutes. RSU took a 70-59 lead, its first double digit advantage of the night, with a pair of made free throws by Alex Ewings with 3:26 to play. The Hillcats final 11 points came from the free throw line to seal the win.
Four Hillcats reached double digit scoring, led by Ken Holdman with 15 points. Kendrell Thompson tallied 14 points, Hartzler added 12 points and Hammond poured in 10 points. RSU shot 55 percent from the field and 47 percent from long distance. The Hillcats swiped 11 steals and won the battle on the boards, 30-26.
Rogers State (7-0) will travel to Shawnee for the Oklahoma Baptist University Classic at the Mabee Arena inside the Noble Complex on Nov. 23-24. RSU will take on No. 21 Evangel on Friday night at 5 p.m. followed by a match-up with Northwood (Texas) on Saturday at 7 p.m.