The Columbia College men’s basketball team might have committed the ultimate sports taboo Thursday: overlooking one’s opponent.
“You never want to admit that,” said sophomore guard Ryan Steinhoff after an unimpressive 80-60 win against Harris-Stowe.
“You always have that big game coming up, you don’t want to look past a game,” Steinhoff said. “But it’s in your mind.”
The Cougars (17-10, 6-1 AMC) play on the road against American Midwest Conference rival McKendree (20-5, 6-1) on Saturday. That challenge seemed to preoccupy the Cougars, who played flat at the start at the Arena of Southwell Complex.
“I just felt like there wasn’t a lot of excitement in the air,” coach Bob Burchard said.
The Cougars led consistently throughout the first half until a 10-0 Harris-Stowe run cut the lead to 31-30
The Hornets (6-18, 1-7) led by three early in the second half before the Cougars reclaimed the lead 46-37 after they had a 10-0 run.
“First half we struggled a little bit,” senior Craig Bryan said.
Bryan played limited minutes because of a sprained right ankle he suffered Saturday at Central Methodist.
“I think once the game got started we eventually got settled down and (decided) we have to take care of business today,” Bryan said.
For Burchard, taking care of business included reluctantly inserting Bryan into the game at points during each half.
“I kept thinking, if we could buy him a couple more days then he might be a little bit stronger when we get to Saturday,” Burchard said. “After that first half, Thursday was more important than Saturday.”
Bryan played just more than nine minutes and scored four points.
With Thursday’s game out of the way, Columbia College can focus on the daunting task awaiting it Saturday at McKendree, where the Cougars will hope to win even the ugliest of games.