COLUMBIA — The Columbia College men’s basketball team ended the first day of the Norm Stewart Classic with a 72-61 win over Haskell Indian Nations University at the Southwell Complex.
On a night where the Columbia College volleyball team played for the national championship in Sioux City, Iowa, the basketball team struggled with focus in the second half. The team was disappointed with its performance despite the win.
“Coach was mad (after the game),” junior guard Henrique Medeiros said. “He told us at halftime that we still had 20 minutes to play, and I guess we didn’t listen.”
Although the Cougars (9-1) were disappointed after a sluggish second half in which they were outscored 34-31, they showed no real signs of distraction in the first half.
Columbia College led by as many as 15 points in the first 20 minutes while grabbing 10 offensive rebounds and turning the ball over just three times.
The second half of the basketball game began around 8 p.m., right when the championship volleyball match was set to begin in Sioux City, Iowa.
Coach Bob Burchard suggested that the team got complacent with its halftime lead and let its focus drift to how the volleyball team was doing because of the timing of the games.
“I told them afterwards that I really felt like we’ve been kind of focused on other things,” Burchard said. “I don’t think there was the level of excitement in the gym that we are used to because we didn’t create it.”
Medeiros helped create excitement in the first half, scoring 15 of his game-leading 24 points in the first 20 minutes on 5-of-7 shooting.
“I thought it was really nice that he had a good game like that because he had a couple of games where was really disappointed in his play and where he turned the ball over too much,” Burchard said.
Usually a distributor, the junior guard from Brazil picked up the scoring pace with his teammates struggling to find open looks. He drained three 3-pointers in the first half and shot 8-for-12 from the floor for the game.
The Cougars finished the game with 13 offensive rebounds, which was a big reason why they were able to win against an Indians team that had two players who were 6 feet 8 inches or taller.
“They had a couple big kids down low and they rebounded well,” Medeiros said. “One of our main focuses is getting second chances because they become points and they become more possessions.”
The Cougars return to the court on Friday when they travel to Chicago to take on East-West University in the Robert Morris University Classic.