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Sophomore continues comeback in Columbia College women's basketball team victory

Thursday, February 16, 2012 | 10:10 p.m. CST; updated 12:02 a.m. CST, Friday, February 17, 2012
Columbia College forward Ashley Fisher and Missouri Baptist point guard Mandy Kirby fight for a rebound during the game at The Arena at Southwell Complex on Thursday. The Cougars beat the Spartans 67-59.

COLUMBIA — Midway through the first half of its game Thursday, the Columbia College women's basketball team found itself tied at 18 with Missouri Baptist University. 

The ball came to Ashley Fisher, who grabbed the lead with a 3-point shot from the corner.

On the Cougars' next possession, Fisher grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a layup to extend the lead to five points. 

Five minutes later, Fisher sunk another 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 31-20 lead. 

It was hard to tell that the rally-starter in the Cougars' 67-59 victory at The Arena at Southwell Complex was playing in only her 11th game this season.

The 5-foot-11-inch sophomore was all over the court Thursday night, playing with the poise of a seasoned veteran. She roamed the perimeter on offense, creating opportunities for her teammates, and her blonde ponytail seemed to be constantly under the basket as she grabbed rebounds on the other end of the court. 

Fisher played for the Cougars last year but quit basketball at the end of the season. When injuries left coach Mike Davis with only six healthy players, he invited Fisher to return.

Fisher has come off the bench in every conference game for the Cougars and averages 10 points and five rebounds per game. 

Last week, Fisher was named American Midwest Conference Player of the Week after back-to-back 16-point games. On Thursday, she contributed 11 points and nine rebounds. 

Davis said he still doesn't think Fisher has reached her potential. 

"I don't know that she's there quite yet, but we're getting close right now," he said.

Fisher says it took her five or six games to be totally comfortable on the court.

"After that, I was ready to go, felt that I had my legs back under me and felt a lot more confident," she said.

For Davis, her recent success has been a relief after a frustrating start to her season. 

"I think she's been a little frustrated in wanting to walk in and instantly be right there," he said. "You know, the game's not that easy." 

Fisher has been another piece on a team that brings a balanced scoring attack to each game. Other players hitting double figures Thursday were Heather English with 15 points and Airelle Eldridge with 14 points. Julie Teeple led the team with 12 rebounds. 

While having a short bench has been challenging, Davis said he thinks it might have helped the Cougars stay consistent.

"When you don't have the number of players, I think, in a lot of ways, it's a plus for them because they understand their roles," he said. 

With three games left, the Cougars hold a one-game lead in the American Midwest Conference. Davis says he's not looking that far ahead. 

"This team's done a great job of keeping things really day-to-day, and we've had to," he said. "Three games down the line, we're not going to worry about that. Let's just get ready for Saturday."

The Cougars are now 19-8 overall and 9-2 in the American Midwest Conference. Missouri Baptist falls to 8-18 and 2-9 in conference.

Columbia College will continue its season Saturday, when it hosts Williams Baptist. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at The Arena at Southwell Complex. 


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