COLUMBIA — Losing conference games is not a familiar feeling for the Columbia College women's basketball team.
William Woods University handed the Cougars their first conference loss since February 2010, defeating Columbia College 69-64 on Thursday night at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
The Cougars and Owls, ranked No. 25 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, traded blows throughout the first half. Columbia College held a one point halftime lead after 10 early lead changes.
The game remained close until William Woods took control with about three minutes remaining, taking a six-point lead that Columbia College was unable to make up.
With four players suffering season-ending leg injuries, six of the Cougars' seven healthy players put in more than 24 minutes. Head Coach Mike Davis said fatigue might have played a role in the defeat but that the team's play should have been tighter throughout the game.
"I think we were tired," Davis said. "I don't think that kept us from guarding some people earlier and doing some things that could've made the end different."
The Cougars were forced to make outside shots on many possessions, and the Owls held reigning American Midwest Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week Julie Teeple to seven points and 10 rebounds.
"I don't know that it was necessarily their defense," Teeple said. "You have one of those games where your shots don't fall or your fouls don't get called. You can make excuses all day, but the ball's still not going in the basket."
Davis cited the lack of production from the post as a weakness.
"We didn't get the production from inside the way we needed to," Davis said. "We weren't putting the ball on the block and attacking and getting that movement."
With starting center Amanda Phillips out for the season, the Cougars have had more players helping out under the basket, allowing for more open shots around the perimeter. The Owls took advantage of this weakness, scoring 36 of their points from beyond the arc.
Guard Heather English led Columbia College in scoring with 23 points.
The loss drops Columbia College to 12-7 overall and 2-1 in conference play. The Cougars will travel to St. Louis to continue conference play against Missouri Baptist University on Saturday.