Columbia College focused on coming out of halftime with intensity. Brescia didn’t let it, though.
The Bearcats changed the momentum and defeated Columbia College 80-74 on Monday at the Arena of Southwell Complex in women’s basketball.
“The beginning of that second half did us in,” Cougars coach Mike Davis said. “We talked about how important those first five minutes were going to be. A good team like that isn’t going to be done after 20 minutes.”
The No. 8 Bearcats scored seven straight points to start the second half to close the Cougars’ lead to 44-39.
After Lindsey Sparks missed a shot that would have given the Bearcats the lead, the No. 22 Cougars got two steals, and Tiffany Foote made consecutive layups to give Columbia College a 50-45 lead. Foote led Columbia College with 13 points.
“I always try to pressure the ball,” Foote said. “It makes it harder for them to run their offense. I got a couple of steals hoping that would pick up the team. But then again we let them back into it.”
After Lauren Simmons missed an opportunity to give the Bearcats (3-0) a lead, the Cougars went ahead 57-50. Brescia then used a 13-2 streak to pull away.
“We shot the ball really well,” Brescia coach Marty Rowe said. “It seemed like every time we had an open shot, we made it. We have a lot of good shooters. As long as we were catching them in the flow of the offense and are ready to shoot, I’ve got confidence that they will make them. But you never expect to shoot that well.”
Davis said the Bearcats used flares and screens to get shooters open against the Cougars (2-1) man-to-man defense. Columbia College switched to a matchup zone the last five minutes, a move Davis said he should have made earlier.
The Cougars led 44-26 with two minutes to play in the first half, and Rowe said he feared the game would turn into a blowout.
“We were scared to death,” he said. “We knew coming up here that they play with energy and play so well here. We knew that defensively, if we were flat they’d make shots on us. And that’s what they did. They outworked us those first 20 minutes. Honestly, I thought we were fortunate to be down only 12.”
Brescia outscored the Cougars 6-0 in the last two minutes with a Charity Croger three-point play to close the half.
“We got too relaxed the last two minutes of the half,” Foote said. “Instead of doing what we know how to do and keep the pace of the game how we like it, we let them get back into it.”
In the first half, the Cougars shot 51 percent and outscored Brescia 10-2 in second-chance points.
Foote said the Cougars focused on rebounding and were successful in that area.
Junior guard Lisa Kowalewski said the Cougars were rushing on offense.
“I was rushing all my shots,” Kowalewski said. “I needed to take a deep breath and I didn’t do that. I needed to relax, because I was going in hyper-speed.”
Kowalewski scored 12 points, but shot 3-for-11, 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. She led the Cougars with eight rebounds.