Less than four minutes into the game, Columbia College guard Tiffany Foote banked in a shot from the right corner.
The basket gave Foote confidence in her shot and she led the Cougars to an 87-66 win against No. 18 Oklahoma Christian on Thursday at Arena of Southwell Complex.
“I didn’t even want to count those points,” Foote said. “That was a luck shot, I admit that, that was something terrible. When you hit a couple, you have a lot more confidence and you just release it, rather than think about it.”
Coach Mike Davis said that Foote’s shooting opened things up for No. 22 Columbia College.
“She was Footetastic,” Davis said. “She really keyed us on both ends of the court tonight, both offensively and defensively. When she does that, it allows everybody behind her to pick up their intensity.”
Foote said that it was her night to carry the offensive load for Columbia College, because the Eagles were concentrating on Lisa Kowalewski. Foote led the Cougars (6-2) with a career-high 28 points. Kowalewski had 13.
The Cougars shot 50 percent from the floor and 61 percent from the 3-point line.
After the Eagles (7-2) scored four straight to start the second half, the Cougars used a 17-2 streak to gain a 60-44 lead with more than 14 minutes to play.
“The game plan is always the first five minutes to get out and push,” Foote said. “Today we actually went and pushed through the first five.”
Before Thursday, Davis said the first five minutes of the second half have hurt Columbia College.
“We actually did a little knock-down, drag-out drill at halftime when we came out, just to get us going,” Davis said. “I think those first five minutes were really special tonight.”
Columbia College led 43-38 at halftime, but the Cougars committed 14 turnovers in the half, leading to 16 fast-break points for Oklahoma Christian. The Eagles played a 2-2-1 zone in the half that caused the Cougars problems.
“It was more of us forcing our own turnovers than them,” Foote said. “We knew exactly what they were going to do, we just weren’t executing what we had practiced earlier.”
Foote’s banked 3-pointer in the first half started a 22-12 streak that gave Columbia College a 32-20 lead with less than 10 minutes to play in the half.
The Eagles closed to 34-32 with a 9-0 streak, holding the Cougars scoreless for more than four minutes.
“You’re not going to take a team as good as they are and not expect them to make a run at you,” Davis said. “They were an Elite Eight team last year and are used to success.”