COLUMBIA — With Columbia College’s leading scorer Trae Hall slowed by illness, the Cougars’ Joe Flanner took control.
In the second half, Flanner scored 11 of the Cougars’ first 15 points, leading them to a 79-68 win over Missouri Baptist on Thursday night in The Arena of the Southwell Complex. Flanner finished with 21 points, but Cougars coach Bob Burchard still sees plenty of room for improvement.
“He had a nice little stretch in there,” Burchard said. “But, he still only had one assist too, and I think he could do more in that aspect, but it was nice to have a game when we weren’t so 100 percent dependent on Trae.”
Hall was held out of practice on Wednesday, and had just seven points on 2-of-6 shooting.
“I don’t know what I have,” Hall said. “I tried to go to the nurse today, but then she was out because she was sick, so I don’t know.”
Hall may have been sick, but it was Flanner providing the headaches for the Missouri Baptist defense once his shots started falling in the second half.
“We always want to get Trae the ball, but you could tell he wasn’t himself tonight,” Flanner said. “All of us knew we’d have to step up and do something.”
Columbia College came into the game ranked third in the NAIA in scoring defense, allowing just under 60 points a game. Burchard has been preaching the importance of defense all season, and Flanner knows just how high Burchard’s demands are.
“We give up a point and coach gets all riled up, we give up two points, and everybody’s just thinking don’t let them score, we’ve got to play defense as hard as we can,” Flanner said. “That’s what drives us though, is we don’t want to give up any points if possible and that’s why we’ve done such a good job at holding teams.”
Missouri Baptist’s Brandon Bishop led the Spartans with 18 points, and Bret Wilson added another 14. Burchard said he was disappointed in his team’s defensive performance, despite holding Bishop and Wilson 24 shots combined.
“I thought we could have done better,” Burchard said. “They take enough shots where they’re going to get their points, but we didn’t do as well in the other part of the lineup as I would have liked to.”
With 11:42 remaining, the Cougars’ Lee Sattler drained a 3-pointer to open up Columbia College’s lead to nine points. After Sattler’s three, Missouri Baptist never got within eight points of the Cougars.
“We got real loose with the ball late,” Burchard said. “We had three or four turnovers there really late in the half that I just thought were unnecessary, and I think some of that comes with experience, so hopefully we’ll do a better job of that.”
The Cougars improve to 19-6 with the win, and hold on to second place in the American Midwest Conference with a 7-2 record.
Missouri Baptist drops to 5-19 on the year and 3-5 in conference.
Columbia College will take on Williams Baptist College at 4 p.m. Saturday in Walnut Ridge, Ark.