COLUMBIA — Trailing 27-29 at the half, the Columbia College men's basketball team had to make some adjustments.
The undefeated Cougars faced Culver-Stockton College Friday night at home and the game came down to one thing: size.
"We had to change our line-up," Columbia College Coach Bob Burchard said. "One of our strengths is our size and you would think we could take advantage of that against a team that's undersized, but the way they played offensively, they took our big guys out of the game."
Ultimately, the Cougars preserved their unblemished record by defeating the Wildcats, 83-75. Columbia College shot 55 percent from the field, but were outscored from behind the arch, 39-9.
Joe Flanner led the Cougars with 16 points and senior Terrell Turner followed with 13. Culver-Stockton College's Phil Peugh led the game with 21 points for the Wildcats.
The teams battled for the lead in the first half, with six lead changes and three ties. The Cougars struggled defensively, letting the Wildcats shoot 7-of-16 from the three-point line in the first half. Burchard recognized the team's defensive challenges.
"Our defensive intensity wasn't where I wanted it to be," Burchard said. "The game was about matchups and the matchups were really awkward. They were playing basically with four guards and we had a lot of trouble defending them."
The Cougars remedied that problem in the second half by opening the period with four guards on the floor. Turner had two steals in the first few minutes, which swung the momentum toward Columbia College's side. That momentum would stay with the Cougars throughout the remainder of the game.
"He's our best on-the-ball defender," Burchard said of Turner. "He really sets the tone defensively to start the second have and through out the half. He made some key plays just defensively and the tempo just raised. After the tempo raised, we played so much better."
With 10 minutes left, Turner scored his only three-pointer of the game and immediately after, he picked a Wildcat pass at half-court, dribbled to the basket was fouled on a lay-up. He finished the game with four steals.
"Everybody has a pattern when they dribble the ball...and I try to get their pattern and then use my quickness to get the ball from them," Turner said.
Turner is the smallest player on the Cougar squad at 5-foot-eleven. His size and quickness was exactly what Columbia College needed to win.
"It's easier to be smaller because you're a lot quicker and you can create more for yourself," Turner said. "Some guys that are bigger have trouble matching up with smaller guy."
This win brings the Cougars to 5-0 overall. Columbia College travels to Daytona, Fla., to compete in the Embry Riddle University Invitational.