Columbia College lost 74-61 to McKendree University in the semifinals of the American Midwest Conference tournament on Friday night.
The black and silver jerseys dotted the floor at The Arena of Southwell Complex as the teams faced off for a serious 40 minutes of basketball, which resulted in the devastating loss for the Cougars (28-4).
Junior Rachel Oswald scored the first point of the game and the last. She also scored her 1,000th-career point, though it didn’t come at an ideal moment. For her, it wasn’t about her personal achievement as much as it was for the benefit of the team.
“It was a team thing; we cant blame it on one person,” Oswald said. “Everyone has mistakes.”
Tearfully, Whitney Widaman agreed.
“My head wasn’t there tonight," she said.
Columbia College outscored McKendree in the first half, 28-24.
“At halftime, it was easy to see,” Lady Cougars coach Mike Davis said. “We had some kids that were right on the edge mentally the whole first half. We had some kids really on the verge mentally of giving in.”
In the second half, Columbia fell into severe foul trouble. Both Brittany Taylor and Whitney Davis fouled out. Taylor fouled out with nine minutes still remaining in the game.
That was when freshman starting guard Fiona Sparks stepped up. Sparks maintained her 66 percent 3-point percentage, scoring two 3-pointers late in the game.
“We got in foul trouble, so we couldn't have who we needed out on the floor,” Sparks said.
However, Sparks kept calm.
“In tough situations, tough people come through, and mentally, we weren’t at the level we needed to be at tonight,” Davis said.
Oswald scored 27 for the Lady Cougars, and the Bearcats' team leader was Katie Fullerton, who scored 23 points.