COLUMBIA — The Columbia College women’s basketball team fought through a sloppy game to beat McKendree 60-53 on Thursday.
Nearly halfway into the first half the Cougars were down 14-10. Guard Kayla Rice had already missed two layup opportunities off of fast breaks, and center Denise Rosario was on the ground holding her knee after being fouled. Rosario left the game because of the injury but later returned.
With nine minutes left in the first half, the Cougars recovered and began to look like the team that entered the game 9-0. Forward Amanda Phillips brought some rhythm by hitting a 2-pointer and 3-pointer back to back that put the Cougars up 17-16. As the final three minutes of the first half approached, Rosario, back in the game, scored twice and made one of two free throws. The Cougars shot 48 percent from the field and led at halftime 29-23.
The Cougars opened the second half on a 12-8 run. Halfway through the second half, Rosario, leading the team with 11 points, was benched after picking up a third foul and did not return.
“I wanted to be in the game helping the team, but my number of fouls and energy level kept me from the court," Rosario said.
With Rosario out, Phillips dominated down low. She finished the game with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“I just kind of run everywhere, I’m very spastic," Phillips said. "I try to use what I have in order to be as good as I can be, and size is my advantage."
Rice, who struggled early, also began to relax late in the game, scoring once and making four free throws for six of her 12 points in the last four minutes. She added five assists. A McKendree turnover with less than a minute left ultimately led to Rice's final free throws, the last points of the game.
“Tonight our shots weren’t going in, but when it came down to the end I was happy we finished the game, that last couple of minutes is how you want to finish a ball game," Columbia College coach Mike Davis said.
The Cougars (10-0) next host Stephens College at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Southwell Complex. In the teams' last meeting, on Jan. 15, the Cougars defeated Stephens College 111-32.