Lisa Kowalewski’s smile is a welcome sight to Columbia College fans and a bad omen for her opponents.
Her deft shooting helped the Cougars beat William Woods 85-68 on Tuesday at The Arena of Southwell Complex and remain undefeated in the American Midwest Conference. The win was the Cougars’ 15th straight.
With 11:06 left in the first half, the Owls’ fans taunted Kowalewski as she shot free throws. She smiled, calmly made both shots and extended the Cougars’ lead to 21-10, their largest at that point.
“Coach (Mike Davis) told me a couple practices ago that when I relax and just let that shot go and not think about it at all, they go in a lot more,” she said. “We’re working it around more, and in the flow of the game we’re getting shots. That really helps with the shooting percentage.”
The Cougars (23-7, 13-0 AMC) shot 55.8 percent against their undersized opponents. Charliss Ridley, a junior forward, scored a team-high 23, and LeAnn Fossum added 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
Ridley was named the NAIA Player of the Week for Feb. 9-15. In two games during that span, she averaged 27.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
“It is a great honor and accomplishment, but the main thing is winning,” Ridley said. “That is what I’m focused on right now, but it does feel good to see my hard work pay off.”
Fossum, a freshman forward, continued her offensive hot streak by scoring deep in the post and making open shots from the baseline. She scored a career-high 20 on Saturday in the Cougars’ 93-54 win at Illinois-Springfield, and she has made 24-of-28 during her past three games.
“LeAnn just works her tail off,” Davis said. “When you work that hard, good stuff comes to you.”
The Cougars used their height to their advantage once they stopped the Owls’ dribble penetration. Kowalewski had four of the Cougars’ 10 blocks.
“I felt huge,” Kowalewski said. “It’s an awesome feeling. I know why Mindy (Mitchem) loves it so much now.”
The Owls (10-17, 6-7 AMC) trailed 44-36 at halftime, but were within double digits for only the first 24 seconds of the second half.
Davis said his team’s lack of ball movement in the opening minutes frustrated him. Tiffany Foote, a junior guard, jump-started the Cougars’ offense with her speed and unselfishness. She had 19 points and a game-high eight assists.
The Owls’ Susan Borghardt scored a game-high 24. Kim Tennill, the Owls’ leading scorer and starting point guard, had 22 but missed all six of her 3-point attempts.