It won’t always look pretty, but if it ends with a win, the Columbia College men’s basketball team won’t care.
The Cougars (2-1), with only four players returning from last year’s team, outlasted a veteran Westminster team 82-71 Wednesday night.
Both teams played similarly in the first half: efficiently in the paint, poorly from behind the arc, and rife with turnovers. The highlight of the half came a little over six minutes in, when Columbia College junior guard Adam Mennemeyer had a monstrous block off a shot from Westminster’s Kobe Wands.
Despite the shaky play, it seemed as if the Cougars would run away with it early, but Westminster turned a 15-point deficit into a 4-point deficit in the final six minutes of the half.
The Cougars opened the second half with another turnover that turned into Westminster points, but then settled in. Mennemeyer picked up two quick 3-pointers, and Westminster had no answer for Thibault Benabid in the paint.
“In the first half I think I could’ve played harder, be more physical with the ball,” Benabid said. “In the second half they passed me the ball inside. I think it was better in the second half, I did better.”
Benabid and Mennemeyer each finished with 17 points for the Cougars, while Justin Shaw scored 14 and Braden Wendel chipped in with 11. The Cougars turned the ball over 20 times, but picked up 13 assists after combining for only 11 in the first two games.
“I’m happy to see that number, I’m just not happy to see the one to the right of it,” Columbia College coach Bob Burchard said regarding their assist to turnover ratio. “If your assists are down that means everything is happening for me. We’re spending all our time at the buffet table, we need to start getting some family salad instead of loading up our own plate.”
The Cougars will have plenty of time to prepare for their next game when they host St. Louis College of Pharmacy on Nov. 17 at Bob Burchard Court.