COLUMBIA – Amanda Phillips was at the end of the rainbow.
With seconds remaining and her team up 52-51, Phillips, a forward on the Columbia College women's basketball team, swiftly flung herself towards the floating ball that was mere inches away from nicking the rim.
Her 6-foot-3 frame stretched, and secured the air ball.
“I knew that shot was nowhere near going in,” Phillips said. “It was a rainbow, nowhere near the basket.”
What Phillips found at the end of this rainbow was not only her 13th rebound of the game, but a game securing play for the Cougars on Wednesday night at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
“I did what I was programmed to do,” Phillips said. “I got it, put the ball under my chin, and waited for the wolves to come. You’ve got to hold onto the ball in that situation.”
Opposing players flocked toward Phillips, and she was fouled with less than a second left in the game. She would make one free throw to finish off the Avila University Eagles 53-51.
Players celebrated and fans cheered. The Cougars’ improved to 4-0 in a season that only started six days ago.
But not everyone was satisfied.
“Yuck,” Cougars coach Mike Davis said, laughing yet frustrated with his team's performance. “I thought it was a really flat performance. For us, four games in six days, our energy just was not good. I thought we battled through, and got a win out of it, but we’ve still got work to do. A lot of work.”
The Eagles (1-1) kept up with the No. 18-ranked Cougars the entire game. Columbia College trailed Avila late in the first half by six points, and they were tied with less than a minute left in the game.
“I mean, I think mentally we’re tired,” senior guard Kayla Rice said. “It’s just something we have to work through.”
Rice scored nine points and led the team with two assists. She was fouled with less than a minute left with the game tied at 51, and made one of two free throws to secure a one-point lead for the Cougars. While Phillips’ night was highlighted by the final rebound, she also recorded four blocked shots and led the team with 10 points.
The Cougars, who now have five days to rest until their next game, bring their undefeated record to Nebraska on Monday to face Peru State.
"It was a challenge, and it was meant to be a challenge. I guess we passed, but we struggled a little bit,” Davis said.
“Hopefully, we will get to end the season the same way we’re starting it."