The Columbia College women’s basketball team knew they were going to see Missouri Baptist’s full-court press a lot.
The Cougars prepared accordingly.
This preparation, along with solid defensive play, helped the Cougars (15-3, 3-0) defeat the Spartans (9-9, 0-3) 96-59 on Thursday night at the Arena of Southwell Complex to stay undefeated at home this season.
“The press is their style of play,” Columbia College coach Mike Davis said. “They want to get turnovers and get the ball back. When we did turn the ball over, though, we played well on the defensive end.”
The Cougars’ guards were largely responsible for overcoming the Spartans’ press.
“We’re the ones that handle the ball so defeating the press falls on our shoulders,” freshman guard Whitney Davis said. “We could’ve handled it a little better, though.”
Turning the ball over 22 times, the Cougars didn’t have as much success as they would have liked. However, they were able to counter the press effectively enough to force the Spartans to abandon it during parts of the game.
“Any type of press makes it a little helter-skelter out there. It’s just a matter of staying focused mentally,” senior forward Rachel Davis said, who finished with a game-high 18 points.
The win was especially satisfying for the Cougars because the Spartans are the defending regular season champions of the American Midwest Conference. Last year, the Cougars fell one game short of tying the Spartans for the best record in the conference.
“We all talked about it and we weren’t going to let them come on our own court and get away with anything easy,” freshman guard Whitney Widaman said.
Before last season, the Cougars had been the regular season conference champions every year since 2001.
But memories from last season’s rare second-place finish helped fuel a fast-paced start to the game. The Cougars went on a 9-0 run after the opening tip.
After building an early lead, the Cougars didn’t let up. They went on a 19-0 run during a six-minute stretch late in the second half.
“We wanted to come out on fire against them and just play our game,” Davis said.