If Aaron Edwards keeps this up, he might have a new best friend in Columbia College coach Bob Burchard.
Edwards hit his second game-winning and buzzer-beating shot in seven days to give the Cougars an 83-82 double-overtime victory against Bellevue University on Friday night.
The Cougars (10-1) trailed 82-80 with 20 seconds left in the second overtime. Khamari Ballard, who had a career-high 34 points, missed a deep 3-pointer and grabbed the rebound with about six seconds left. He faked a shot, drawing the Bruins’ defense toward him, and then passed to a wide-open Edwards who hit a 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired.
“Aaron and I are very close right now,” Burchard said. “He’s such a poised young man. He’s so calm, he just found himself open and made the play.”
Edwards also made his team’s final shot in the Cougars’ 71-69 win against MidAmerica Nazarene on Nov. 29. With the game tied at 69, Edwards’ unconventional tip-in from about 8 feet went in as the buzzer sounded. He said he enjoyed Friday’s game-winner even more, but not by much.
“This time you can’t say it was luck,” he said. “That was my regular form. They both feel good, as long as we win. However it comes, I’ll take it.”
Edwards’ 3-pointer electrified the crowd at the Arena of Southwell Complex, and his teammates jubilantly piled on top of him in celebration.
“I’m claustrophobic,” Edwards said. “I felt like I was about to die, but it was cool. It was all in good nature.”
The No. 15 Cougars trailed 74-71 with 15 seconds left in the first overtime. After catching the ball on the right wing, Ballard took one dribble left and quickly released a 3-pointer that hit nothing but net, tying the game at 74 with four seconds left. Bellevue’s James Mills shot a desperation 3-pointer from about 30 feet, but it was off the mark.
“I was thinking overtime (before my shot went in),” Ballard said. “Fortunately I got the good look and knocked it down.”
The Bruins (6-5) shot an incredible 70.2 percent. Mills scored 29 on 13-of-16, and Columbia College experimented with several different schemes to counteract Mills’ low-post offense. Burchard said he gives the Bruins’ coaching staff tremendous credit for their team’s stellar shooting performance.
“I have so much respect for their team and their level of play,” he said. “They had an answer for every single thing we threw at them. They didn’t get rattled, our guys didn’t get rattled and if that’s not a classic basketball ball game, you know, you just don’t see any better than that.”
Cougar forward Tim Melz’s 3-pointer with 18:08 left in regulation gave Columbia College its first lead at 35-34. Melz hit four 3-pointers in the second half. The Cougars trailed 10-2 after the first four minutes.
The Cougars overcame the Bruins’ highly efficient offense thanks to its pressure defense and solid ball handling. The Cougars scored 33 points off Bruin turnovers and committed 12 turnovers themselves. They also attempted 21 more field goals than the Bruins.