Columbia College women's basketball coach Mike Davis said Monday's American Midwest Conference championship game would not be the highlight of his team's season — "win or lose."
After falling to top-seeded Freed-Hardeman 80-71, the NAIA tournament-bound Cougars are still hopeful there are highlights yet to come.
Despite four players scoring in double-figures, No. 11 Columbia (26-7) fell to Freed-Hardeman for the third time in as many tries this season. The Lions (32-1), ranked No. 2 in NAIA, got a double-double from sophomore Kayley Newman, who racked up 26 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Taleeah Cross also chipped in 19 points for the Lions.
“Coming into this game we said this was not going to be the highlight of our season, win or lose,” Davis said from Henderson, Tenn., in a phone interview after the game. “Now we’re trying to get ready for next week. I’m not going to sit here and say this wasn’t a big game for our team, but it’s not the most important game we’ll play this year.”
The Cougars — who earned one of the AMC’s two at-large bids for the NAIA's 32-team tournament— will find out Wednesday who they will play in the first round, which will begin for them either Saturday or Sunday in Frankfort, Ky.
Columbia led Freed-Hardeman by three points with 8:34 remaining in the second half, but the Lions used a 12-2 run to vault ahead for good.
Senior guard Heather English led Columbia in scoring with 15 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Forward Janairrika Bland and guard Petrolina Chilaka also pitched in 13 points apiece for the Cougars.
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for Columbia, which has won 14 of its last 16 games.
“We’re probably about a 3(-seed), if I’m guessing,” Davis said after the game. “But you never know.” Each of the four brackets consists of teams seeded 1 through 8.
Before Monday, Freed-Hardeman had handed Columbia its only two losses in conference play, drubbing the visiting Cougars 95-68 in January and eking out an 84-82 win on Columbia’s home floor a month later.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig.