COLUMBIA — Early in their game Monday night, the Central Christian men's basketball team had only four players on the floor.
While the error was the result of miscommunication and was quickly remedied, the Saints might as well have been playing a man down the entire game against Columbia College, falling behind 17-0 en route to an ugly 111-38 defeat.
Columbia College Cougars (10-0)
vs. Benedictine College Ravens (8-3)
WHEN: noon Friday
WHERE: Southwell Complex, Columbia College
The Cougars (10-0) showed off a deft shooting touch, making 62 percent of their shots — including a game-high 20 points from freshman guard Marcus Whitt — but the Saints (2-12) offense was downright awful at times, air-balling countless shots and barely hitting the rim or backboard on many more.
Columbia College, which moved up to No. 6 in the NAIA national poll this week, owned a 30-point lead at halftime, but the fireworks had yet to begin.
Within the first five minutes of the second half, fans were treated to several acrobatic plays. Junior guard Devin Griffin flipped a contested layup off the backboard to junior guard Derek Dilworth, who threw down a two-handed dunk. Then, two slams from Griffin sandwiched a thunderous baseline dunk by senior forward Marquette Murrell.
“We had to come back out and keep up the energy,” Griffin said.
While the teams were mismatched, to say the least, coach Bob Burchard was happy with the little things the Cougars did to maintain control.
“Maybe they knew their time was limited,” Burchard said of the starters like Griffin who rested on the bench for most of the game. “In the second half, they played better together.”
The crowd-pleasing displays of athleticism gave way to a couple odd moments.
Sophomore guard Zach Rockers stopped play for 30 seconds to re-adjust his contact before nailing one of his game-high three 3-pointers. Minutes later, senior forward Ben Bowman paused to collect band sheet music that had fallen to the floor during a loose ball.
For the most part, though, the focus was on the game, and the Cougars stayed true to their philosophy that’s kept them concentrated on their goals during several blowouts this season.
“It’s never about our opponent,” Rockers said. “It’s about us.”