James Rojas scored 21 points as the No. 16 Blue Dragons defeated Neosho County 105-95 on Wednesday at the Sports Arena. (Allie Schweizer/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
James Rojas scored 21 points as the No. 16 Blue Dragons defeated Neosho County 105-95 on Wednesday at the Sports Arena. (Allie Schweizer/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

Neosho County's Lual Dung and the rest of his Panther teammates put on an incredible 3-point shooting display on Wednesday night at the Sports Arena, but the final 3 minutes, 21 seconds belonged to the Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team.

The Panthers tied an opponent record with 18 3-pointers on Wednesday night, but the 16th-ranked Blue Dragons found a way to earn a 105-95 Jayhawk Conference victory.

The Blue Dragons improve to 18-4 overall and 14-4 in the Jayhawk Conference. The Dragons some help from another hot-shooting team in the Cowley Tigers, who hit 18 3-pointers in a 100-92 win at Barton. Those results mean the Blue Dragons climb within one game of the first-place Cougars.

How hot were the Panthers from 3-point range? By halftime Neosho County had surpassed the previous Hutch opponent season high surrendered for a game with 12 treys in the first 20 minutes. Hitting 18 of 39 total 3-pointers, Neosho County tied the 2001-02 College of Southern Idaho team that hit 18 treys against Hutchinson.

Dung tied an individual opponent mark with nine 3-pointers, tying Howard College's Jacob Thomas, who had nine 3-pointers in a 2013 NJCAA Tournament second-round game against the Dragons. Dung was 9 of 11 from long range and 13 of 15 overall to finish with a individual opponent-high39 points. Dung had 22 point by halftime.

Leading 89-86 with 3:13 to play in the game, the Blue Dragons closed the Panthers out with a 16-9 run. The Blue Dragons finished the game hitting 3 of 5 shots and were 8 of 8 from the foul line in that stretch. For the game, the Blue Dragons were a season-high 30 of 33 from the stripe.

For the second time this season, three Blue Dragon players scored 20 or more points.

Sophomores Devonte Bandoo and J.J. Rhymes scored a team-high 24 points each.

Bandoo was 7 of 15 shooting with two 3-pointers and a career-high 8 of 8 from the free-throw line. He also had a career-high six assists. Bandoo surpassed the 800 career point mark and is just eight points from joining the Blue Dragon career Top 25 scoring list.

Rhymes was 8 of 14 from the field and 7 of 8 from the line. Rhymes moved past Stan Blackmon (1970-72) and Shakur Juiston (2015-17) into 14th place on the Blue Dragon career scoring list with 1,049 career points. He also tied William Davis (1986-88) for sixth on the career free throw list with 299.

Freshman James Rojas finished with a career-high 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Rojas added six rebounds and four steals. In two games against Neosho County, Rojas has scored 40 points.

The Blue Dragons shot 53.8 percent for the game (35 of 65) hitting 5 of 12 from 3-point range. The Dragons had a 41-26 rebounding advantage.

Austin Downing had 17 points, while Tevin Downing and Branden Fenner had 13 points each.

The Panthers shot 48.3 percent for the game (29 of 60), including 19 of 30 from the foul line.

Neosho County had 14 first-half field goals with 12 of them being 3-pointers. Dung's third 3-pointer of the game gave Neosho County a 20-9 lead with 12:51 to play in the first half. His fourth trey of the half gave the Panthers their largest lead of 13 at 29-16 with 9:08 left in the half.

The Dragons started to chip away as Bandoo scored seven straight on a pair of layups and a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to 29-25 with 6:42 to play in the half. The Panthers kept Hutchinson at arm's length with 3-pointer after 3-pointer until the final minute of the first half.

A Rob Whitfield 3-pointer with 1:05 left finally got the game tied at 43 and then two Bandoo free throws with 41 seconds left gave the Dragons their first lead of the game at 45-43, which was the halftime score.

Rheaquone Taylor hit a jumper to start the second half, but the Panthers eventually took a 59-55 lead with 15:38 left on a Tevin Downing jumper. The teams were tied on three occasions after that.

Tied at 63, the Blue Dragons had a four-point possession as Whitfield hit two technical free throws and Bandoo added two free throws on the common foul to lead 67-63 with 11:52 left. That started a 10-3 run that was capped by a Rojas layup for a 73-66 lead with 10:12 to play in the game.

An Austin Downing 3-pointer saw the Blue Dragon lead slip to 73-70 with 9:02 left. The Dragons answered the challenge with a 10-1 run as Hutch used another four free-throw sequence on two technical free throws by Whitfeild and two more by Rojas to build an 83-71 lead with 6:37 to play. Neosho County then went on a 10-2 run and pulled within 89-86 with 3:21 to go.

Leading 93-89, Taylor scored a key basket and he worked for an offensive rebound and score. After a missed Panther 3-point attempt, Bandoo scored with 54 seconds left to give the Blue Dragons a 97-89 lead. Hutch's lead was never smaller than seven points after that.

The Blue Dragons travel to Colby for a 4 p.m. game on Sunday against the Trojans in the Colby Community Building.

GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are now 39-5 all-time against Neosho County, including 22-1 in games played in Hutchinson. … This was Hutchinson's sixth 100-point game. … The 60 second-half points marked the fifth time the Blue Dragons have reached at least 60 points in a half this season. … This was Hutch's 10th game this season shooting 50 percent or better. … Rob Whitfield had a career-high eight free throws. … Sal Nuhu now has 72 career blocked shots with two rejections on Wednesday.