COLUMBIA — There were more people on the basketball court than usual Saturday at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
Columbia College held a fundraiser to help fight cancer through the Coaches vs. Cancer program Saturday at its men's and women's basketball games against William Woods. Between the games, coaches invited spectators who knew someone that was battling or had died from cancer to come out on the court. Nearly everyone in attendance joined the teams on the hardwood.
"Whether you're an Owl or whether you're a Cougar, we're all fighting this together," Cougars men's coach Bob Burchard said over the loudspeakers at the arena.
Regardless of what jersey the players were wearing or who the fans were cheering for, they were all on the same team at that moment.
The Cougars used their own team concept to defeat William Woods 74-56 to move to 8-15 overall and 2-5 in the American Midwest Conference.
"I thought our defensive presence was still strong, and we played offensively so much better," Burchard said. "The ball moved crisply and we got inside a lot. We played together as a team a lot better than we have in a long time."
Senior forward Quintin Totta lead the Cougars with 21 points, along with Josh Davis with 16, Taylor Evans with 14 and Aleksander Eric with 11.
"We've only had one game this year where a guy scored 20 points before tonight," Burchard said. "It's our second game. It's not like we have somebody that says, give him the ball he's gonna score, If that's the case then we have to have a bunch of guys involved."
The Cougars played as a team much better on both sides of the ball. They outrebounded the Owls 32 to eight on the defensive end and shot 49.1 percent from the floor. All but one of the Cougars players that got in the game scored. The Cougars matched up well physically with the Owls, since both teams have more size than speed on the floor. Columbia College likes to play a slower version of basketball, one that is often hard to do in the NAIA.
"The negative thing for that is we're big," Burchard said. "Just in terms of NAIA we're pretty good size, and defensively that's been a problem for us since we play so many four-men or three-men teams that are quicker and shoot threes, and we're asking guys to go out and guard on the floor. If that's going to be the case, and we're going to utilize it, then we need to limit their possession and play around the basket a lot. We're the anti-Mizzou. It's not the fastest 40 minutes in basketball, it's the slowest."
The fundraising event gathered more than $700 for the American Cancer Society according to the Cougars' Web site.
The Cougars play next against Williams Baptist on Thursday at the Arena of Southwell Complex. The Cougars look to play a similar game against the Eagles who are 10-11 and 3-3.
"We'll need to come back and build from this," Burchard said. "We've said that multiple times this year though. We'll say this needs to be a starting point. Somewhere along the line we need to transfer successful style of play into another competition."