Some losses hurt more than others.
On Saturday, Columbia College suffered a defeat that included a little extra sting.
With a crucial conference win within their grasp, the Cougars allowed Illinois-Springfield to score 20 of the last 26 points enroute to a 68-63 loss at the Arena of the Southwell Complex. The loss drops the Cougars (17-5, 3-2) two games behind the conference-leading Springfield Prairie Stars (13-8, 5-0).
After struggling with a full-court press for most of the first half, the Cougars appeared to figure out how to break it, twice stretching their lead to nine points in the second half. That nine-point margin wasn’t enough security, however.
“We got a lead, but not significantly,” coach Bob Burchard said. “We didn’t have control of the game.”
Soon, the Cougars had lost all control. And, perhaps more disturbing, the Cougars exhibited a lack of focus during the decisive run.
“I’m very concerned about that,” coach Bob Burchard said. “We did lose a little of our determination and that’s definitely an issue with this group.”
That issue showed up many times for the Cougars. Burchard singled out his team’s inability to score points around the basket as a by-product of the lack of focus.
“I thought our forwards really had a tough game in terms of scoring and rebounding around the basket,” Burchard said. The Cougar’s forwards combined to shoot nine for 23 for 19 points while committing eight turnovers.
“They didn’t play at the level they’re capable of,” Burchard said. “And I think that’s a focus and determination issue.”
While Cougar forwards were unable to consistently finish around the basket, the Prairie Stars’ leading scorer Curtis Collins had no such difficulties. After struggling in the first half with six points, Collins had 14 points on 8-of-10 from the floor in the second half.
One of the players responsible for containing Collins was Columbia College forward Bryant Chambly. Chambly, who contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds, said Collins was the benefactor of solid play from his teammates.
“He was the benefit of a lot of easier passes,” Chambly said. “He got a lot of wide-open passes because his guards were able to dish and penetrate.”