5th straight win earns Cougars practice-free day

Sunday, January 25, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:16 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bribery is taboo in most situations, but Mike Davis, the Columbia College women’s basketball coach, used it to his advantage Saturday.

Davis made a deal with his players before the Cougars’ game with Williams Baptist (Ark.) at The Arena of Southwell Complex. He said he would give his players a day off from practice today if they played well.

Davis’ psychological ploy worked to perfection. The Cougars beat the Eagles 93-44 for their fifth consecutive win, including four straight against American Midwest Conference opponents.

“They came out and were enthused to play,” Davis said. “I think we’re starting to come alive mentally and physically.”

Charliss Ridley, a junior forward, had her first double-double as a Cougar, scoring 17 and grabbing a season-high 15 rebounds.

“(Davis) put a challenge to (the forwards) about the guards outrebounding us,” she said. “I’ve been under the weather the past couple days. I was trying to be more focused on the defensive end and the offensive end.”

The Cougars’ forwards responded well to the challenge. The Cougars outrebounded the Eagles 57-31.

The Cougars (13-7, 4-0 AMC) held the Eagles to 23.8 percent shooting. The Cougars’ forwards controlled the lane defensively from the opening tip. Mindy Mitchem had five of the Cougars’ 11 blocked shots.

“God blessed me with good timing,” Mitchem said. “Nothing is more exhilarating than shoving the ball back in someone’s face.”

Lisa Kowalewski led the Cougars with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. She also had a game-high four steals.

“(Davis) talked about getting fingers on balls,” she said. “When we start to tip the balls, we might not be the one who gets the steal, but it’ll make it easier for someone else to get the steal.”

The Cougars had 12 turnovers after committing 31 in their previous game at Harris-Stowe State. Tiffany Foote, the AMC Player of the Week for Jan. 11-17, led the Cougars with 10 assists and had one turnover.

Davis said he implemented a new rule that requires his players to abstain from hand lotion on game days.

“It’s kind of like when you go into surgery and there’s no eating after (midnight),” he said. “Sometimes it’s not the pass, it’s the decision to make the pass, and I think we did a better job of that today.”

The Cougars’ bench thrived against the Eagles (7-10, 1-3 AMC). The Cougars’ reserves scored 36.

Ursulla Jose, a freshman forward from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, made all five of her shots in 10 second-half minutes.

“(Jose) has a lot of skills,” Davis said. “She’s had a hard time getting going. She’s had some homesickness issues, but today she didn’t worry about all that and really had a great ball game for us.”

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