Columbia College had every reason to expect a lopsided victory against Lindenwood on Monday, but the Lions had other expectations.
After leading 15-3 with 13:52 left in the first half, it appeared the No. 23 Cougars would cruise to their 12th consecutive victory in their final nonconference game.
Mike Davis, the Cougars’ coach, said his team’s lack of offensive execution allowed the Lions to close the gap.
“We got off to a pretty good start offensively, and then sometimes that is the worst thing that can happen to you,” he said. “You think, well it’s going to come easy. In the first half we had four assists, and I don’t think we were into working for each other.”
The Lions tied the score at 28 with 1:04 remaining in the first half after going on a 13-3 run. The Cougars (20-7) led 32-30 at halftime.
Charliss Ridley, a junior forward, said her team became complacent after gaining an early advantage.
“I thought we were a step slow out there,” she said. “We really weren’t playing with the intensity and the aggressiveness we needed to. Second half, we just had to regroup and play with fire.”
Davis was visibly frustrated with his team’s play and the officiating. Lisa Kowalewski, the Cougars’ all-time leading scorer, picked up her fourth foul with 11:50 left and her team trailing 39-38. The call incensed Davis, who received a technical foul. Although Davis said he wasn’t sure his argument inspired his players, the Cougars outscored the Lions 32-11 after the technical.
Both teams were abysmal from the field. The Cougars shot 30 percent to the Lions’ 27.1 percent. Mindy Mitchem, who leads the nation with 3.3 blocks per game, intimidated the Lions in the paint, forcing them to settle for perimeter shots. Mitchem had seven blocks and four steals, and the Lions made only 5-of-21 3-pointers.
The Lions (9-19) limited the Cougars’ fast-break opportunities. Tiffany Foote, the Cougars’ starting point guard, said the Lions guards, particularly Ryanne Morton and Crystal Barz, did a good job pressuring the ball and slowing down the Cougars.
“In the first few minutes, we had a good transition game, but the game kind of slowed down after that,” she said.
Ridley had game highs with 19 points and 11 rebounds, despite struggling from the field. Ridley was 4-for-13 shooting but made 11-of-12 free throws.
“Free throws have always been a big part of my game,” Ridley said. “My mom always threatened me, if I don’t make free throws, I don’t get dinner.”
LeAnn Fossum, a freshman forward, was limited to 19 minutes because of foul trouble. Davis said his team sorely missed Fossum’s energy when she picked up her third foul with 11:16 left in the first half.
“She does all that dirty stuff, and she doesn’t mind doing it, she likes doing it,” he said. “She’s got a big motor, and she’s that way every day in practice.”