Mike Davis, Columbia College women’s basketball coach, says he believes pressure defense starts with the point guard.
Junior Tiffany Foote applied that pressure Tuesday in the Cougars’ 79-62 win against Park University at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
Foote had five steals and her pressure defense helped the No. 22 Cougars force the Pirates into 29 turnovers.
“We tried to do our trap defense,” Foote said. “It usually throws the other team off and makes them shake things up. Coach is always harping on me that pressure starts with the point and to pressure the ball so they don’t get an easy look.”
The Pirates (7-2) started to attack the offensive boards early in the second half and closed to 53-47 on a Randi Meissner layup.
“Their big kids started to get on the boards right there,” Davis said. “When we lost control, it got tough for us. But we have people who have been in tight places before and they kept their composure.”
Meissner committed her fourth foul with nine minutes to play, and the Cougars attacked on offense.
Meissner guarded freshman Rachel Davis, who scored six straight points to spark an 18-4 streak that gave Columbia College a 71-51 lead. Davis finished with 14 points.
“(Meissner) is kind of slow and I’m the backup point guard, so we just tried to attack her and get her in foul trouble,” Rachel Davis said. “I felt I was in the zone. It was good, I haven’t had a night like that.”
Mike Davis said Rachel Davis plays her best facing the basket.
“She got a feel for it, got it going and then that basket seems a little bigger,” Mike Davis said. “We put her on a spot where she needed to produce for us to have success.”
With 15:13 to play, Tara Emily fell over a Pirate player chasing a loose ball and landed headfirst. Emily returned and hit two baskets late.
“Tara Emily is a really good shooter with a goose egg on her head,” Mike Davis said. “I told her nobody would guard her, the way she looked, they’d be scared too. She came in and hit a few shots for us and gave us a big lift.”
The Cougars (5-2) used a trapping defense in the first half to hold Park to 25 percent shooting and cause 19 turnovers. Columbia College led 36-18 at halftime despite committing 17 turnovers.
“We were standing a lot,” Mike Davis said. “If we didn’t get our first option on offense, we didn’t get into that next set of picks. And when you stand that allows the defense to get into passing lanes and get hands on balls.”
Meissner had a double-double at halftime with 12 points and 10 rebounds. She earned an offensive rebound and scored on a putback to give Park a 2-0 lead. Mike Davis immediately called a timeout.
“That young lady does a really good job on the boards,” Mike Davis said. “One thing we really talked about was keeping her off the offensive boards and here 10 seconds into the game she does just that. It was just a reminder, a friendly reminder.”
Meissner finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds.
“She’s really strong,” Columbia College forward Tilly Payne said. “She was either going to score or we were going to foul her. We really didn’t know how to guard her, so we just tried our hardest.”
Payne scored Columbia College’s first six points and finished with 18. Payne said she expected to be able to run the floor against Park’s inside players.
Before the game, junior guard Lisa Kowalewski was honored for becoming the second Cougar to score 1,000 points, which she reached Nov. 15. Kowalewski has scored 1,068. Missy Wilt scored 1,117 from 2001-03.