COLUMBIA - Senior forward Rachel Oswald called it a "fight."
Oswald was an integral part of the Cougars 68-63 win over conference rival William Woods on Saturday. She scored 27 points and had eight rebounds.
"We just kept fighting and kept battling back," she said. "We had to protect the home court."
The Cougars nearly doubled-up the opposing Owls in total rebounds, 50-26. Senior forward Veronica Smith had 19 of those to go along with her 13 points.
Head coach Mike Davis hung his hat on his team's rebounding effort.
"We talked about rebounding before the game," Davis said. "We wanted to take certain things away from them, and I think we did a really great job of winning that battle. It was a great way to end the week."
Oswald and senior guard Whitney Widaman, who added 17 points, led the way against a stout William Woods team that came in ranked No.17 in NAIA and one game behind the Cougars for the American Midwest lead. Oswald talked about the difference in performance from last year's contest.
"Last year, in this game, I really didn't have much of a presence. So I made a lot of stepping up and being a leader and really playing well. I mean, 'Hey, if they're going to back off, I'm going to shoot it,'" she joked with teammates Kandace Cross and Courtney Jorgensen.
Jorgensen, a sophomore guard, started for the first time in her career Thursday against Harris-Stowe and started again against the Owls. Although she didn't make the scoresheet, she was constantly hounding on defense.
"There was a little bit of nerves before the game," she said. "But everyone was so hyped up for it that I just kind of forgot about them."
Despite the big win, Davis isn't letting his team get an ego before it plays host to the Williams Baptist (Ark.) Eagles on Thursday.
"You don't hit your peak January 30th," he explained. "There's a lot of basketball to play and a lot of important games left."
Although this one was important, it concluded with an even more important showing on the court.
Both the men's and women's coaches from both teams, participating in the Coaches vs. Cancer benefit by the American Cancer society, came out to ask everyone who knew someone who had a bout with cancer to come on to the court. Nearly everyone left their seats.
"We're all on the same team in this battle," said Davis, who lost his mother to cancer. "We have staff and players who have been touched by this. There's almost no one not touched by it."