COLUMBIA — Columbia College sophomore guard Heather English lay underneath her own basket, tangled with a MidAmerica Nazarene player. Sophomore guard Aqua Corpening lay at mid-court after colliding with another player.
This left freshman guard Tierney Seifert, who is only 5 feet 6 inches tall, alone under the basket to guard four Pioneer players running a fast break. Seifert couldn't stop them, and the sequence led to an easy layup to put Nazarene ahead 79-61 with eight minutes left to play in the second half.
Even when the Cougars had all five players back on defense, it seemed that they still could not stop the Pioneers. Nazarene defeated the Cougars 100-89 Tuesday night at the Arena of the Southwell Complex. The Pioneers, ranked ninth in the most recent NAIA poll, remained undefeated at 10-0 with the victory, while the Cougars dropped their third straight game and fell to 4-5 on the season.
Both teams made shots at a high percentage, but the difference came from behind the 3-point line, where Columbia College made just one shot compared to Nazarene's 10. Columbia College shot 50.8 percent from the field but allowed Nazarene to shoot 58.5 percent, including 66.7 percent in the second half.
The Cougars allowed an opposing team to score 100 points for the first time since the 2003-04 season, despite placing an emphasis on defense in practice earlier in the week. Cougars coach Mike Davis said his team's defense was disappointing, but talked about his team's mentality rather than its physicality.
"I think we're fighting ourselves to win games," he said. "We have to get some confidence rolling, trust each other and know how to win games."
Corpening expressed a need for the team to play better together and translate what they learn in practice to games.
"During practice everyone's bought in and working hard, but we lost our focus and fundamentals come game time," Corpening said. "We need the attitude that we're going to practice how we're going to play."
The game also had a physical element, with the two teams combining for 58 personal fouls. In all, five players fouled out (two for Nazarene, three for Columbia College) with five other players collecting four fouls. English said the Cougars prefer a physical style of play but had to adjust to the high number of fouls being called.
"Both teams just had to roll with it," she said. "If they're going to be calling touch fouls, we've got to start playing defense with our feet, not our hands."
Columbia College kept things close early in the game. The Cougars led 20-14 with 11 minutes to play in the first half until Nazarene went on a 13-0 run to take a 27-20 lead and stayed ahead the rest of the way. The Pioneers used a late barrage of four consecutive possessions when they made a 3-pointer to pad a nine-point halftime lead, and a 12-2 run at the beginning of the second half to put the game out of reach.
The Cougars used a late run in the final minutes to trim the Nazarene lead, which was as large as 21 in the second half, but the effort was not enough to salvage a victory.
Senior guard Lily Abreu scored the Cougars' final 12 points, finishing with a game-high 20. English and Corpening were among five Cougars scoring in double figures, with English scoring 13 points and Corpening scoring 12.
Columbia College will not play again until Dec. 18 when they host Peru State, which the Cougars defeated 80-69 in a Nov. 23 matchup.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.