COLUMBIA — Ashley Fisher certainly has more than one reason to celebrate this week.
The freshman forward for the Columbia College women’s basketball team was selected by the American Midwest Conference as the league’s player of the week.
“It’s great," Fisher said, "but my teammates are the ones who are able to find me, so I can make shots.”
Her accuracy has impressed Cougars coach Mike Davis.
“I don’t know if, as a freshman, I expected her to step in the way she has,” Davis said. “But Fish is a shot maker — that’s what she does.”
Fisher is no stranger to recognition. During her high school career she led the Harrisburg girls basketball team to a state championship and an undefeated 31-0 record while snatching up her fair share of awards, including three-time all-district and all-conference honors.
Her freshman year with the Cougars seems to be similar. Fisher scored 16 points against William Woods on Saturday in a 80-73 victory at The Arena at Southwell Complex, helping the Cougars end conference play with a 16-0 record.
The Cougars had home court advantage, but the stands were packed with a fair share of William Woods’ fans. The Owls entered the game at 14-1 in conference, their only loss at the hands of the Cougars in January in Fulton. Both teams' supporters were stomping and chanting so often and so loudly it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Southwell Complex had been reduced to rubble.
The fans' motivation couldn’t keep the Cougars from a rocky start, with William Woods jumping out to an 8-0 lead. However, the Cougars managed to find their rhythm and claimed a 36-31 halftime advantage. Cougars senior Janita Session scored 15 of her team-high 19 points in the period.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming out here. There was no doubt that William Woods were going to give their all,” said Cougars guard Kayla Rice, who finished the game with 16 points and six assists. “Coach has preached to us thousands of times that we’re going to miss shots, but we just have to stick with it."
The victory gives Columbia College (25-5) the top seed in the American Midwest Tournament. The Cougars will host a quarterfinal matchup at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of Monday’s first-round game between Stephens and Harris-Stowe State.
The winner of the AMC Tournament receives an automatic bid to the 32-team NAIA Division I National Tournament set for March 16 through 22 in Jackson, Tenn.