Hangovers usually follow a night of heavy drinking or a hard-fought victory. Columbia College suffered from the latter Saturday against Hannibal-LaGrange.
“It was an ugly win,” Cougars coach Mike Davis said. “That would be my synopsis of it.”
The Cougars beat the Trojans 59-45 at The Arena of Southwell Complex in an American Midwest Conference game for their ninth straight victory. On Thursday, the Cougars claimed first in the AMC by winning at McKendree (Ill.) 79-75.
“Whenever you have a really big game like we had with McKendree, it’s hard to have that same energy,” Davis said. “Not that you’re not wanting to play or ready to play, but human nature is not quite there.”
The teams also had a stark contrast in styles. The Cougars (17-7, 8-0 AMC) had a size advantage at nearly every position but still looked to push the ball offensively. The Trojans (13-9, 3-5), on the other hand, had superior quickness but used most of the shot clock on each possession to reduce the Cougars’ fast-break opportunities.
Tiffany Foote, the Cougars’ starting point guard, said the Trojans’ plan didn’t surprise her.
“I think a lot of teams are scouting us and seeing that trying to slow us down is a thing they should try to do to stay within a close point spread,” she said.
The Cougars’ defense caused the Trojans’ strategy to backfire. Although the Trojans played patiently on offense, they made 30.6 percent of their shots.
Charliss Ridley, a junior forward, said communication was vital to the Cougars’ defense.
“We really wanted to know where their key players were and find where they were on the court,” she said. “I know a couple of them want to shoot open 3s, (but) we took that away and also the penetration.”
The Cougars’ forwards controlled the lane, outrebounding the Trojans 39-23. Ridley and Tilly Payne led the Cougars with eight rebounds.
Payne, a junior forward, also gave the Cougars’ stagnant offense a huge lift off the bench. She scored 10 on 5-of-7 shooting. She said Davis emphasized getting the ball inside at halftime.
“I don’t know if they were too small, or if I was playing really aggressive,” she said. “I just knew the game was getting kind of tight and somebody had to step up.”
The Trojans’ defense was its most effective offense. Their quickness disrupted the Cougars’ ball handlers and forced 18 turnovers. The Trojans scored 23 off turnovers.