COLUMBIA — The Columbia College women's basketball team led Park University 23-18 late in the first half.
The Pirates were using a full-court press, but the Cougars' Tierney Seifert threw a pass from the midcourt line to Heather English in the lane. English made the layup.
The basket started a 43-29 run that resulted in a 67-49 victory for Columbia College in the first-round of the American Midwest Conference tournament on Wednesday at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
With the win, the top-seeded Cougars advanced to the semifinals of the tournament where they will play against fourth seed Williams Baptist on Friday.
Park battled with Columbia College for the first 13:14 of the game. With just over five minutes remaining in the first half, Park’s Amanda Laurenceau ferociously fought for a loose ball and dragged Seifert to the court for a jump-ball call. Park had chances to keep the game close but did not take advantage of fast break chances, missing uncontested layups.
The Pirates, with just a nine-player traveling roster, were simply overmatched. Park did not have the legs to compete with Columbia College for an entire game.
The Cougars locked down on defense and consistently forced the Pirates to use most of the 30-second shot clock. Throughout the game, Columbia forced Park into bad shots in the lane or bad 3-point attempts.
On offense, Columbia College tried to play a wide open game. It wanted quick chances. The Pirates used their full-court press most of the game. If the Cougars successfully inbounded the ball, and avoided turning it over in a trap, they had plenty of room to throw the ball down court to open players. This led to a lot of easy buckets.
Cougars Coach Mike Davis said the Pirates played desperate, and his team did not deal with the full-court press well.
English, who led the Cougars in scoring for the fourth straight game with 13 points, said she expects to see other teams use the press on them in coming games.