Lady Cougars basketball preview

Inspired team looks to a national championship

The 2008-09 Lady Cougars went 29-5 with a conference record of 14-2. The team was sparked by a dynamic hit-and-run offense that saw three players close the season with more than 200 points, one with nearly 400 points and one with an incredible 552 points.

Led by forward Rachel Oswald (who contributed the 552 points), Whitney Widaman (395 points), Brittany Taylor, Whitney Davis, Dominique Ivory, Fiona Sparks and Julie Teeple, the Lady Cougars made it to the second round of the national tournament.

The core of the team – Oswald, Widaman, Davis, Ivory and Teeple – is intact and hungrier than ever for a shot at the national title. This season the Lady Cougars enter the season ranked no. 14. Head coach Mike Davis says he expects new players such as guard Kandace Cross, forward Veronica Smith and guard Janita Session to boost the Lady Cougars' tempo even more.

Cross, a 5'9' guard from Newport, Ark., led the Moberly Area Community College Lady Greyhounds to a 24-7 record as a sophomore. At Newport High School, Cross was a three-time All-Conference player. Davis says she will add a different element to the team's guards with her height. The 5'11" Smith, transferring from Arkansas State University, will play her senior season at Columbia College. As a sophomore, she averaged 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game; this past season she averaged 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and was named to the Sun Belt All-Conference team.

The 5'10" Session, a native of Torrance, Calif., averaged 10 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists per game. In high school, she was named to the All-Los Angeles first team and led her team to a 26-3 record. She then spent two seasons at the University of Texas-Pan American.

Davis has made Columbia College women's basketball a treat for fans as the team has competed at the national level every year since women’s basketball was reinstated at Columbia College in 2000.In his eight seasons, Davis has taken the team to the national tournament seven times and has been named AMC Coach of the Year four times. The Lady Cougars have made it as far as the second round three times thus far.

The Cougars open play at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 2 vs. Union (Tenn.) University in Jackson, Tenn. The home opener will be Monday, Nov. 9 vs. Avila (Mo.) University in the Arena of Southwell Complex at 5:30 p.m. Be there and watch the Lady Cougars roar!

Columbia College Cougar basketball events are held in the Southwell Gym, 700 Rangeline Rd., Columbia. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students to all basketball games; free with a 2009-10 Cougar Club All-Sport Family Card, which admits four people to any Columbia College regular season sporting event.