Columbia College prepares for showdown with McKendree

Friday, January 25, 2008 | 3:52 p.m. CST; updated 12:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — With both teams tied for second at 4-1 in the American Midwest Conference, the game Saturday between the Columbia College and McKendree women’s basketball teams is important for both teams. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. at McKendree in Lebanon, Ill.

But despite the game’s significance for positioning in both the conference standings and conference tournament at the end of the season, Columbia College head coach Mike Davis says there is no reason to over-prepare.

“We have been through a lot with this young team, so we try to keep scouting reports minimal,” Davis said. “We just need to do what we do.”

Davis did say, however, that team defense would be the key to slowing down a very balanced McKendree offense.

“It’s not as though they have any one player who is a star,” Davis said. “They have a very balanced attack.”

McKendree has eight players averaging at least 5.0 points per game. The Cougars have a pretty well-rounded offense as well, with four players averaging double figures in scoring.

While the two teams are even in the standings, they have achieved their success in the conference with contrasting styles of play.

Columbia College plays a pressing defense and tries to push the tempo in the open court. With 6-foot-2-inch Suzy Gurler and 6-foot-1-inch Emily Best playing the post, McKendree wants to force the ball into the interior.

This difference in philosophy is partly responsible for the two teams frequently playing close games, said Davis.

The Cougars and Bearcats split two meetings last year. McKendree defeated Columbia College in the AMC tournament in 2006, denying them a berth in the NAIA tournament for the first time in school history.

Columbia College leads the all-time series 12-4. Davis said that this margin was more indicative of the program’s success a whole as opposed to any particular advantage against McKendree.

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