COLUMBIA — The Columbia College women's basketball team knew what to do Tuesday against visiting Hannibal-LaGrange.
"We knew we had to get the ball inside," center Denise Rosario said.
The problem was the shots didn't always fall, and the Trojans wouldn't go away, either. At least for the first half.
After leading just 35-31 after the first 20 minutes, the Cougars' inside game came up big in the last 20 minutes to carry Columbia College to a 83-64 victory at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
"I don't know why," Cougars coach Mike Davis said, "but Hannibal-LaGrange is hard to get away from, even at their place. We go up 14 or 15, they come back. We go up 20, they come back. That team never quits."
But the Cougars' height advantage was too much for the Trojans.
With only one girl over 6 feet tall on the Trojans roster, the Cougars used Rosario and fellow center Amanda Phillips, who are both 6-3, to clog up the middle, grab rebounds and force tough shots.
"If they beat us on the dribble, it still forces a tough shot on the back end," Davis said.
With four blocks for Phillips and three for 6-foot forward Rachel Oswald, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, the Cougars only needed to get the ball through the net to pull away. Shooting 57 percent in the second half, Columbia did just that.
A six-point run by Rosario, before leaving the game with a slightly hyperextended right knee, sparked the Cougars to go up by as many as 22 points.
"The fact that we were just so much taller really helped, of course," Rosario said. "We really took advantage of that."
After Rosario went out, Phillips took over the middle.
"It was nice when they would come inside. I think they started to back off a little towards the end," Phillips said, laughing. "I mean, I like them to continue to do it."
The win brings the Cougars to 12-1 in American Midwest Conference play. The Cougars, ranked No.10 in the NAIA, came into Tuesday's game one game ahead of William Woods, their final opponent of the year, in the standings.
"Everything is leading up to William Woods," Phillips said. "We're not overlooking anybody; it's just all preparation for that game."