Saturday afternoon was bittersweet for Columbia College.
Junior guard Lisa Kowalewski broke the Cougars’ career scoring record, but Columbia College fell to Pittsburg State 83-75 at Hickman High.
“I congratulated her after the game,” Cougars coach Mike Davis said. “And her first words were, ‘I’d rather trade it for a win.’ So that’s a good way of putting it, but it doesn’t diminish her accomplishment.”
Kowalewski’s 11 points gave her 1,124, passing Missy Wilt, who scored 1,117 from 2001-03.
“It’s a great honor,” Kowalewski said. “It’s exciting, and I guess I’ll have time to think about it over break. Right now, I’m just trying to get that loss feeling out of my mouth.”
Kowalewski broke the record with a 3-pointer to give Columbia College a 10-6 lead with 15:05 left in the first half.
“I know we’re not supposed to think about it on the court,” Kowalewski said. “But as soon as I let the 3 go, I thought, ‘This won’t even tie it up, this will give me the lead.’ And it swished.”
No. 19 Columbia College (6-5) led throughout the first half, but Cougars turnovers kept the Gorillas in the game. Leading 36-23, Columbia College committed turnovers on four straight possessions late in the half, allowing Pittsburg State (5-3) to close to 38-35 at halftime.
“The last four minutes is when the game got away from us,” Davis said. “You have to finish a half off and not let a team get back in it and this team has struggled with that all year.”
Davis said a new offense caused many of the problems.
“We’ve taken time to change a lot of things that we’re doing,” Davis said. “Basically, everything different. At times, we did a pretty good job of it, and at other times we struggled with some of the adjustments.”
In the second half, Columbia College continued to struggle with turnovers and Pittsburg State made free throws late to hold on.
The Cougars committed 22 turnovers and the Gorillas scored 23 off those mistakes. The easy baskets allowed Pittsburg State to take a 68-61 lead with fewer than five minutes left.
Columbia College forward Tilly Payne said Pittsburg State hurt the Cougars by cutting to the basket.
“We weren’t guarding that good enough,” Payne said. “That’s something we’ve got to improve on and not foul them every time they cut through.”
The Cougars closed to 69-65 on a Kowalewski layup, but Melissa Watkins made 10 straight free throws for Pittsburg State, which made 29-of-35 free throws.