COLUMBIA — The Columbia College women's basketball team just couldn't hold on to the ball.
The Cougars committed 26 turnovers and lost 61-56 to Bethel (Tenn.) College on Thursday in the first-round of the NAIA National Tournament in Jackson, Tenn.
Junior guard Janita Session had her best game of the year with 13 points and seven rebounds, and senior guard Whitney Widaman added 12 points and six rebounds. But the Cougars couldn't contain the Wildcats' big front-court, led by Nina Djokovic, who led all scorers and rebounders with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Bethel led the Cougars 30-26 at the half, but Columbia College kept the game close in the second half. It wasn't until late in the game that Bethel put the game away.
With a 57-56 lead with 23 seconds left in the game, Wildcats guard Kashundria Berry missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Bethel's Jovana Petrovic came down with the offensive rebound. A foul by Widaman put Berry back to the line.
Berry made the next two free throws to put Bethel up three. Senior Cougars guard Whitney Davis tried a three to tie it, but Teena Carter blocked the shot.
The possession went to the Wildcats with four seconds left, and Widaman fouled Carter to put her on the line. Carter made both free throws to put it in the bag for the Wildcats.
With the Cougars' loss, no American Midwest Conference teams remain in the tournament after William Woods was upset 71-64 by Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) and McKendree (Ill.) dropped its game to Southern Polytechnic State (Ga.) 62-52 on Wednesday.