It was tough to stomach for the Columbia College women’s basketball team. Not because its 18-game win streak came to an end, two short of the school record, nor was it because the Cougars fell just two points short of the Peru State (Neb.) Bobcats in their non-conference game Monday night.
It was, as coach Mike Davis put it, because he knows his team is better than that.
“We left such a stench up in Nebraska it was hard to talk about in the locker room afterward,” Davis joked. “We just didn’t play well at all. We came out very flat and didn’t bring the energy that we usually do.”
So Davis and his Cougars went straight back to the drawing board to get back to the way his team played during their win streak.
“We went right back to work the very next day,” he said. “We tried to get back to the basic things we pride ourselves on. It’s just human nature where sometimes you lose those things.”
It didn’t take long for the Cougars to find them again.
Thursday, against American Midwest Conference opponent Harris-Stowe, Columbia hammered the Hornets with a press-heavy first half to go up 42-9 at the break. The Cougars relaxed the pressure in the second half but hung on easily to stay undefeated in conference play.
“I’m not about to say Harris-Stowe is the best team around, but we took them out of what they wanted to do,” Davis said.
The only setbacks apparent in the Cougars' romp were the knee twists of forward Kirsti Wilkerson and center Denise Rosario.
“It was actually in a matter of, like, two minutes,” Davis said. “But it was nothing serious, they’re just a little sore. They’ll play (on Saturday).”
Even with the minor injuries, the Cougars got back to where they were before the Peru State meltdown.
“Monday was a wake up call to get it done,” Davis said. “I’m going back to coach-speak here, but your most important game is your next one.”
That next game is against a much stronger opponent in William Woods, the No. 19 team in the NAIA. The Owls can tie the Cougars for the AMC lead with a win Saturday.
Davis, however, seemed confident in his team’s ability to take care of business against William Woods.
“They’re a very good team, a very good ball club,” Davis said of the 17-1 Owls. “It’s going to be extremely important to play at game level and get going early.
“We’re blessed enough that if we play at a good level, we’re going to have success. So we’ll just have to go from there.”
As if the game didn’t have enough draw from a pure competitive standpoint, it also features a guest list that includes the VIP Alumni group — former players invited back to watch the men’s and women’s teams in action — and the American Cancer Society. Coaches from both sides will wear white sneakers to take part in the Coaches vs. Cancer benefit. Columbia College personnel will collect donations during both the men's and women's games Saturday, with the money going towards the fight of cancer.
“We’re going to have a good crowd there,” Davis said. “It should be a great atmosphere. It’s two ranked teams, conference game, Saturday night. It should be great fun, and hopefully we’ll make some money for the cancer society.”