COLUMBIA — Aqua Corpening's return to Columbia basketball was a happy one.
The sophomore guard played a key role in the Columbia College women's basketball team's 71-61 victory Thursday night over Oklahoma Baptist in its season opener at Southwell Complex.
Corpening, a sophomore guard, played her high school career at Hickman, where she was a three-time All-District honoree. She originally signed to play at Truman State, but decided to return to play for her hometown Cougars after her first semester at Truman.
After sitting out the second semester of her freshman year at Columbia College as a transfer, Corpening was excited to finally get back on the basketball court in her home town.
"I was nervous at first, but once we got going and got in the fire, I was excited to be back on the court," Corpening said.
Coach Mike Davis seemed just as excited as Corpening to have her playing for Columbia College.
"How much fun is that, being able to play back in your home town in front of your friends and family," Davis said. "Aqua is going to be a great player and a great ambassador off the court for our team."
Despite playing in her first game for the Cougars, Corpening appears that she will fit in just fine on the court. She was one of three Cougars who scored 14 points, and she led the team in rebounds with five.
The Cougars controlled the game throughout, despite a size disadvantage that showed in Oklahoma Baptist out-rebounding the Cougars 65-42. Columbia College was able to create mismatches of their own on the perimeter, knocking down 10 three-pointers, and using a pressuring defense to force the Bison into 25 turnovers.
Columbia College led 39-24 at the half but didn't slow down despite the scoring advantage. Corpening knocked down three-pointers on the opening two possessions of the second half, causing Oklahoma Baptist to quickly use a timeout. The crowd roared as Corpening returned to the huddle and received congratulations from her teammates.
Corpening used the big shots to open up her overall game and contribute on both ends of the floor.
"That boosted my confidence and made me want to do more on defense, take some charges and keep playing hard." she said.
The Cougars offense slowed a bit in the second half, but had built enough of a cushion to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the majority of the game.
Columbia College, No. 21 in the NAIA, plays next against No. 18 University of the Cumberlands in a game set for 7 p.m. at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.