With 17 seconds left and the ball in CC’s hands in a tie game, there were only two options head coach Tomas Brock gave his team: win or go to overtime.
Senior guard Braden Wendel wanted to go home.
As senior guard Justin Shaw drove into the lane for a highly contested layup with five seconds to go, the ball rolled off the hoop into Wendel’s hands, who quickly tipped it in to secure a 70-68 victory over William Woods on Thursday night.
“Justin did a great job of getting to the rim right at the end so the only chance that was there was for us to make the tip-in or to go to overtime,” Brock said.
“Shoutout to Braden for the game-winner. That’s all I got to say,” Shaw said.
It was a tightly contested game, with both teams having slow starts in the first half and picking up the pace and the scoring in the second half.
CC led by seven with 15:18 to go in the final half and was in prime position to put the game out of William Woods’ reach. William Woods then embarked on the long and tough journey to come back, tying the game multiple times in the last 6:20 of the game.
The Owls’ run was inspired by the efforts of senior guard Treshawn Gause and sophomore forward Andrew Nett. They finished with 10 and 11 points, respectively, and it was their speed and hustle on fastbreaks and on defense that put them so close to snagging a victory against a conference rival.
“It was a back and forth game the entire time. It was just one of those games and part of that was William Woods. They played well,” Brock said. “They’re well coached, they had a good game plan and they made some tough shots that I felt we defended pretty well.”
The biggest contributors for CC during the game were Shaw and senior forward Thibault Benabid. Shaw led the team with 15 points, while Benabid added 13 points, four rebounds and five blocks coming off the bench.
“I needed that game. I haven’t had that (kind of) game since the beginning of the year,” Benabid said, “That’s what I need to do. Rebound, get blocked shots on defense and get the type of game like that.”
Shaw said that anybody on the team could have the type of game he had and that Thursday was just his night to do so. He made tough shots and finished strong inside in the 27:44 of action he saw on the court.
The aggressiveness and the fight CC showed against William Woods is something the Cougars will take with it as it continues to dive into conference play.
Cougars women’s team ends Owls’ eight-game winning streak
Columbia College women’s basketball took care of business on Thursday before its upcoming near month-long road trip.
The Cougars defeated William Woods 71-54, putting an end to the Owls’ undefeated start to their season.
CC got off to a hot start in the first quarter, scoring 24 points while holding William Woods to just 12 points to open the game.
The 8-2 run to open the game all came on fastbreak opportunities. The speedy start allowed the Cougars to run up the open court throughout the game and control the tempo to their liking, which is something head coach Taylor Possail said was one of the team’s points of emphasis.
“We know we’re one of the quicker teams in the league,” senior guard Jordan Alford said. “We like to believe benches aren’t as deep as ours, so we can sub in and sub out and everybody that comes off the bench is just as quick as the first five out there. We really like to run teams, get them tired early and then finish them out throughout the game.”
While CC’s offense cooled down in the second quarter, its defense didn’t, holding the Owls to 12 points again.
“That was huge for us. Our start was critical. We do a great job here at home getting started off and so it was really important for us tonight,” Possail said. “(William Woods) is a team that came in 8-0. To beat teams like that, it’s all about the start and maintaining it from there.”
CC’s identity lies in its defense and that was clear against William Woods. Possail said postgame that the team needs to continue to defend the way they did, also saying that the Cougars are a defensive-minded team.
“To hold that team to 54 points is big time. They got some studs,” he said. “(Kaycee) Gerald and (Peyton) Greenlee are tough players, but to hold them to 54 is a group effort right there. That’s people knowing their job and doing their job.”
Alford finished the game with 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting, while also adding nine assists and seven rebounds. Senior forward Raegan Wieser had nine points and 10 rebounds.
CC shot 45.6% from the field and held Williams Woods to 36.1%. It also held the Owls to just 27.3% shooting from behind the arc. As the Cougars continue their journey into conference play, they’ll look to get the offense going, as they missed a lot of open shots.
Both the men’s and women’s teams play Saturday at Park University in Kansas City. The women’s game starts at 1 p.m. with the men’s game to follow suit 30 minutes after the conclusion.
Lost in Thursday’s action at Southwell Complex was a fan banking in a half-court shot to win $800 during the men’s game. Everybody went home happy, especially him.