FULTON — Sometimes your opponent is just too good for you.
No. 14 Columbia College basketball lost to Martin Methodist on Friday 65-58 at the William Woods University Invitational in Fulton.
After the game, coach Bob Burchard said No. 5 Martin Methodist, which made the NAIA Final Four last season and have two returning first-team All-Americans, including James Justice, was "just too good" for the Cougars.
“Justice had a game that would probably warrant him consideration as one of the top players in the country,” Burchard said.
Justice was 7 for 11 from 3-point range and drained any momentum Columbia College tried gaining in the second half.
“It was critical for us to get tough stops,” Burchard said. “But you just go one-on-one and you saw what happened. That’s what great players do.”
Burchard thought Martin Methodist’s zone defense also bothered his team.
The RedHawks’ 2-3 zone caused multiple turnovers and prevented the Cougars from driving to the basket for easy scores. Burchard said zone defenses have given Columbia College some trouble this season and that he expects other teams to implement the same strategy against the Cougars.
“If I were the opposing coach, I’d play zone against us,” Burchard said.
Junior forward Jordan Dressler, a Columbia native, also expressed frustration over the team’s inability to break down Martin Methodist’s zone.
“We just have to learn how to move the ball around, and go inside-out,” Dressler said.
Dressler, last week’s American Midwest Conference’s player of the week, led the Cougars with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Dressler expects the team to respond with a win against Lindenwood on Saturday in the team’s second game of the invitational.
“We just need to be tougher, be gritty and make good plays against good teams like them,” Dressler said.
Burchard echoed that sentiment, saying that games like this come down to a few plays, and the Cougars need to be the team that pushes the envelope.
Even though the team has been on the losing end so far, Burchard said he is glad the team has faced difficult opponents like Martin Methodist this early in the season. He says it has been a learning experience for the Cougars.
“Everything this time of year is about learning about the strengths and weaknesses of your team,” Burchard said.