Men's and women's basketball teams in national contention.
The Columbia College Lady Cougar basketball team, after defeating William Woods (Mo.) University in the championship game of the American Midwest Conference (AMC) tournament, earned an automatic bid to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I Women’s National Championships and played Lubbock (Texas) Christian University in the first round on March 17 at Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn.
The Lady Cougars struggled, however, falling to the Lady Chaps 76-64. The loss ends Columbia’s season at 28-6 and ends an impressive 19-game win streak dating back to January 6. The Lady Cougars finished with 21 turnovers that Lubbock Christian converted into 12 points.
This was the eighth trip in 10 years to the national championships for the Lady Cougar basketball program, led by head coach Mike Davis.
The Cougars trailed well into the second half after falling behind early 11-3. But the Cougars just wouldn’t go away, cutting the deficit to three with just a minute and a half to go. With 19.8 seconds left, senior Greg Stegeman cut the lead to three. Fellow senior Jaron Strickland put the ball high up off the glass to bring the game within one with 7.2 seconds to play, but a Henrique Medeiros layup was blocked as the buzzer sounded and the Cougars lost 69-67.
The Cougars were led by Strickland who posted 16 points, 13 in the second half. Jordan Dressler finished with 13 points and Taylor Evans and Medeiros chipped in 11 apiece. Stegeman led the rebounding effort with eight.
In his 23rd season, men's head coach Bob Burchard was named AMC coach of the year -- for the fourth time. In 2009, the Cougars were national tournament runners-up and made the AMC semi-finals last year.
Well done Lady Cougars and Cougars!
Follow all the Cougar action at www.columbiacougars.com.