Shooting problems damage Cougars

Senior Laura Elliot was an exception after riding the bench much of last season.
Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:03 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

In 2004-05, Columbia College women’s basketball player Laura Elliot averaged less than six points a game, playing as a reserve behind All-American senior Lisa Kowelewski after transferring from Southwest Illinois Community College.

But Elliot has stepped it up a notch her senior season.

In the Cougars’ 61-52 loss to Park University on Tuesday night at the Arena at Southwell Complex, Elliot was the lone bright spot in a night of poor field-goal shooting for Columbia College (4-4). Elliot hit five of her six attempts, finishing with 11 points, and collected eight rebounds in 26 minutes of play. As a team, the Cougars shot below 30 percent in the first half and 33 percent for the game.

Although Elliot is not starting, she was averaging nearly nine points per game heading into Tuesday’s contest, and she has become a reliable scorer, a 45-percent shooter from the floor and a 75-percent free-throw shooter.

Elliot was modest about her success, however, deferring praise to her teammates.

“A lot of (the shots) I get under the basket,” she said. “I get a lot of good passes, and I just happen to be under the basket.”

She also has a substantial list of things she feels she needs to improve on, including cutting down on the five turnovers she made Tuesday.

“I throw the ball away some,” she said. “I’ll be at the top of the key trying to pass it in, and I don’t get a good angle on it. And I’m not as happy as I want to be on free throws. I know I can shoot them. Defense, too — our whole team is shooting where (opponents) want us to shoot.”

Although Elliot was pleased with her positive game, she would have preferred a win for her team.

“It’s very frustrating. We can’t play a consistent full game,” she said. “Everybody’s out to get us. We lose three All-Americans and four seniors, and they think we might be down this year.”

Elliot enjoyed the previous season, in which the Cougars were 31-6 and lost in the second round of the NAIA National Tournament, but she is excited she’s getting more playing time in 2005-06.

“I came here last year and didn’t play much,” she said. “I did come in here with high expectations, but playing behind two great seniors ... I would like to just come out and play my game like I know I can.”

Coach Mike Davis is excited about Elliot’s play as well.

“Laura’s filling a different role for us this year,” he said. “She’s stepping up and doing some good things, looking to shoot more, and we need that from her.”

Though she has high expectations for the rest of her senior season, right now she knows her team has to focus on its next game and hope to rebound from its second straight loss.

“I would like to leave here with a good record and go to nationals, but we really need to work right now,” she said. “We just need to find out what gets us going — free throws, little shots, small things, and that’ll make our game complete.”

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