COLUMBIA — She didn't score the most points, but her impact on the quarterfinals of the American Midwest Conference Tournament might have been the biggest.
Columbia College forward Amanda Phillips overshadowed Harris-Stowe, scoring 22 points and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds in the Cougars’ 100-59 victory against the Harris-Stowe Hornets on Wednesday at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
“Amanda is a huge part of our team,” said Cougars forward Ashley Fisher, who scored a game-high 25 points. “She comes ready to play everyday and makes everyone around her a better player. Amanda is also a relentless rebounder. She is huge in that aspect.”
Phillips, who is 6 feet 3 inches tall, can play down low, but she loves to be around the perimeter most. Harris-Stowe couldn’t contain her at either spot.
“I would personally like to play around the perimeter, but for my size it makes no sense for me to float around the perimeter,” Phillips said after the game. “However, I try to make myself as versatile as possible.”
The Cougars, the tournament's No. 1 seed, have come a long way since their 1-3 start to the season.
“Everyone was worried, but we banded together and realized we all have each other’s back.” Phillips said. “That’s why we are here today, because we are so close as a team.”
Phillips has led the way in supporting her teammates. At practices, she grabs Fisher and the two go shoot free throws together. The gesture has encouraged Fisher, a freshman who has become one of the Cougars premier players.
“Coming in I really felt Amanda helped me adapt to playing college ball, coming out of high school,” Fisher said.
Phillips excitedly interrupted Fisher, reminding everyone, “We’re free-throw partners!”
Not only has Phillips helped Fisher adjust to college basketball. Phillips has also been committed to improving her own offensive game, and it shows.
“She is someone that has worked really hard to develop her offensive game,” Columbia College coach Mike Davis said. “When I see her at practice trying to improve and when a player cares as much as she does, that speaks volumes to me.”
The Cougars will host the tournament's No. 4 seed Park University in a semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday at the Arena of Southwell Complex. The Cougars beat Park University 89-63 on Feb. 5.