The Columbia College women’s basketball team's game Tuesday at Harris-Stowe has been postponed because of bad weather in St. Louis. The semifinal game of the American Midwest Conference Tournament was rescheduled for 7 p.m. Thurday at at Harris-Stowe.
COLUMBIA — For years, the Harris-Stowe women’s basketball team was consistently at the bottom of the American Midwest Conference.
It set an NAIA record for consecutive losses with 71 between 2000 and 2003. Before 2006, it had only won four conference games in theprogram’s history.
Harris-Stowe was especially bad against Columbia College, losing the first 12 games between the two teams. In one of the more lopsided matches, Columbia College beat Harris-Stowe 134-14 on Jan. 28, 2003.
But that all changed when Harris-Stowe coach Chris Lewis recruited point guard Chanel Ross.
Ross had committed to play for Division I West Virginia, but when she did not graduate from State Fair Community College, in stepped Lewis.
Oklahoma City University, ranked fifth in the NAIA top 25, also pursued Ross, but she made her decision based on her relationship with Lewis.
“It wasn’t about a big name school for Chanel,” Lewis said. “She only wanted to go somewhere that she would feel comfortable.”
Once at Harris-Stowe, Ross immediately jump-started the program, piling up individual and team achievements.
This season, Ross set the NAIA single-season record for steals with 178. She also leads the NAIA in both assists and steals, and is leading the American Midwest Conference in scoring.
“She doesn’t take games over with her offense. She takes games over with her defense,” Lewis said. “Her hands are so quick, any time you bring the ball in her area she can get her hands on it and take it away.”
Defending Ross can be a challenge, because of her blend of speed and outside shooting. If a team pressures her, she can blow by the defense. If a team sags off, she can make it pay from the outside.
According to Columbia College coach Mike Davis, Ross’ most dangerous skill is her ability to make the players around her better with her passing.
“She can go create offense for herself and for others,” Davis said. “That’s her strength.”
Ross has scored more than 1,000 points in her two seasons at Harris-Stowe, and Lewis said her play has garnered interest from five WNBA teams.
“I am confident when I say she is one of the best point guards, not just on this level, but on any level,” Lewis said.
Ross has also had an impact on the success of the team. Last season, Harris-Stowe won its first AMC tournament. The Hornets have won five times as many conference games in the past two seasons (20) with Ross as they had in the history of the program.
Despite all of her accomplishments, Davis said Columbia College (16-14) is not going to do anything special defensively when Columbia College plays Harris-Stowe (22-8) in the AMC tournament semifinals tonight at Harris-Stowe in St. Louis.
“We’re just going to go guard them,” Davis said. “We’re just going to see if we’re better.”
Columbia College guard Whitney Davis said that rebounding and handling the ball against Ross’ pressure defense would be important for the Cougars.
In the first two meetings between the teams this season, Columbia College committed 49 turnovers and lost both games.
The team has been looking forward to a rematch ever since.
According to Davis, his players are excited about the opportunity to spring an upset in the conference tournament.
“We’ve gone in as a favorite every year and if something happens then it’s the upset,” Davis said. “For this group they have a chance for a first, that first team to make a run through and no one really expects it. That’s kind of a fun situation to be in sometimes.”