COLUMBIA - Home may be where the heart is, but for the Columbia College men’s basketball team, it’s where their losses are too.
After being down 14 points with just 8:06 to play, the No. 21 Cougars (16-4) mounted a furious comeback that fell just short. Hannibal-LaGrange (11-9) escaped the Arena of the Southwell Complex with a 63-60 win Thursday night.
Columbia College’s Trae Hall, who led all scorers with 16 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute, including one he turned into a four-point play after being fouled.
However, after the Trojans’ Matt Smith missed a pair of free throws with 10.1 seconds left and his team hanging on to a 62-60 lead, the Cougars’ Joe Flannery came down with the rebound and drove the length of the floor before missing a highly contested, game-tying layup with .1 second to play.
“That was probably my mistake, I probably should have called timeout there,” Columbia College coach Bob Burchard said. “I think, typically, I like to kind of let the game flow, we work on stuff like that all the time, not letting the defense set up, but in retrospect, we didn’t get the level of shot we were interested in getting.”
Hall’s four-point play cut the Trojans’ lead to 60-58 with 54 seconds left, and put the Cougars back into a game that seemed out of reach just seconds earlier.
“I just knew we needed a big shot,” Hall said. “We needed to score, and we needed a defensive stop, and I was just trying to do that the best I could.”
All four of the Cougars’ losses this season have come on their home floor, something that has left Burchard searching for answers after his squad dropped a game to a team only one game above .500.
“Four losses, all on your home court, I don’t know what to say about that,” Burchard said. “We were interested in coming out more aggressive, and starting out in a different defensive configuration than we did, and I didn’t. So, going back, I wish I had done that and maybe we would have been a little more aggressive, but that’s been a pattern home or away, and we’ve played a ton of games just like this.”
The biggest lead for any team in the first half was just four points, but the Trojans used a 23-8 run early in the second half to open up a double-digit advantagethat they held until the Cougars came to life in the game’s final five minutes.
“I don’t know why we get more interested late. It’d be nice to have that sense of urgency at the beginning of the game,” Burchard said.
Brett Hoskins added 13 points for the Cougars.
Nick Michalas led the Trojans with 13 pointswhile Naim Benjamin and Cameron Whittaker each chipped in 12.