The Columbia College women’s basketball team might have to look up to their opponents for the first time in more than a month.
After three undersized American Midwest Conference opponents, the Cougars will face McKendree College, a team with five players who are 5 feet, 11 inches or taller, at 7 tonight at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
“I think it’s going to be competitive on the block,” said Mindy Mitchem, a 6-foot Cougars senior. “I know they’ve got a player who’s like 6-2.”
McKendree boasts more than height. With a 5-0 record, McKendree is tied with Columbia College for the conference lead. While most conference games are blowouts for the Cougars, the Bearcats pose a bigger threat.
“I think we match-up very well against them,” McKendree coach Melissa Ringhausen said.
Ringhausen said in order to win her team needs to have one of its better defensive nights and contain Columbia College’s starting five.
“They have very strong starters,” Ringhausen said. “We need to contain Charliss Ridley and keep Lisa Kowalewski from getting hot on the outside.”
Columbia College coach Mike Davis said that while his starters have to play well to win, bench play has been a positive in recent games.
“Rachel Davis and Laura Elliott have been doing a great job off the bench for us,” Davis said. “It’s been a real collective effort here as of late.”
Having played three games last year against McKendree, Davis said “we know (McKendree’s) personnel.”
Players that Davis remembers specifically include Allie Arppe, a 6-foot senior forward, and Katie Hasheider, a 5-foot-6 sophomore guard. Arppe scores 16 points per game, while averaging 8.2 rebounds.
“With (Arppe), you want to make baskets tough for her, make her put the ball on the floor,” Davis said. “I think a real key for us is to keep (their whole team) off the offensive boards and limit them to one shot.”
Hasheiderhas stepped up her offensive production this year, averaging 12.1 points and 4.9 assists.
The McKendree game carries special motivation for the Cougars’ seniors.
“My first year here, we went undefeated in the conference and then lost to McKendree in the conference final,” Mitchem said. “That’s always left a big chip on our shoulders. As seniors that have been here all four years, we always remember that game; that they were cutting down our nets here.”
Mitchem said that she and her teammates have been waiting for the game against McKendree all year.