The Columbia College men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a hot shooting night from Central Methodist University, falling 68-66 inSaturday’s second round of the KMIZ/Best Western Thanksgiving Classic at the Southwell Complex.
The Eagles shot 61 percent from the field, including 74 percent in the second half, and held Columbia College to 37 percent and only 14 percent from 3-point range.
Junior forward Nahowan Saxon led all scorers with 21 points and sophomore guard Andreas Jakobsen added 15 points and 6 rebounds for Columbia College.
After trailing by as many as 11 in the second half, the Cougars battled back to eventually tie the game. With just under a minute left and the Cougars trailing 68-66, Saxon missed two free throws.
“I was able to knock down a couple,” said Saxon, who connected on his first seven free throw attempts before missing the last two. “But the time when my team needed it most, I wasn’t able to knock it down. So that’s just me, I’ve got to step up and get it done.”
Columbia College had one last opportunity, with 2.6 seconds left, but senior guard Aaron Edwards missed a desperation 3-point attempt, and the Cougars lost for the fifth time this season.
“We’ve just got to become a better basketball team” Cougars coach Bob Burchard said. “I think we’re close to being a good basketball team, but we have some guys that are struggling. Until we get everybody playing at a higher level, we’re just not going to be as good as we can.”
The Cougars struggled with a trap defense, and during one second-half stretch, missed eight straight shots before junior guard Terrence Smith hit a 3-pointer.
“We weren’t reallydealing with the trap real well,” Saxon said. “That affected us a little bit. Later in the game we were able to do a better job, but that’s what really offset us I think.”
Despite the Eagles’ shooting percentage, the Cougars played solid defensively for most of the game, forcing 18 turnovers to the Eagles’ seven, but had trouble converting on fast-break attempts.
“We don’t turn turnovers into points,” Burchard said. “We work real hard defensively and we do cause turnovers but that doesn’t necessarily translate into easy baskets on the other end. Somehow we’ve got to put that piece of the puzzle in.”
“Nothing really changes,” Saxon said following the loss. “It’s tough luck, but we’ve just got to forget about it and move on to the next game.”
Central Methodist forward Doug Davidson finished with 18 points and 5 assists and forward Jordan Willer added 16 points and 9 rebounds.