Cougar men's winning streak snapped at 10 games
COLUMBIA - The Cougar men's basketball team couldn't hold on for a win this afternoon as Freed-Hardeman University broke their 10 game winning streak with a 75-69 victory in the Stretch Internet NAIA Network Game of the Week. Columbia, the 13th ranked team in the NAIA, falls to 19-4 overall and 12-3 in the American Midwest Conference with the defeat. The fifth-ranked Lions improve to 19-2 on the season and 14-1 in conference play.
The beginning of the game was a tightly contested battle as the score was tied at 17 with 7:56 remaining in the half. The Cougars took their largest lead of the half after scoring seven straight points to make the score 24-17 over the next two and a half minutes. Columbia remained in control until the Lions tied the score at 28, with the help of an 8-2 run. With just over a minute to play, FHU's Ben Meis hit a three to go up 31-28, but Tanner Sutton drained a three of his own with 46 second left to tie the score at 31 heading into the halftime break.
The second half mirrored the first as both teams battled back and forth to score 14 early points and tied the game at 45. The lead changed three different times, but FHU started to pull away as the Lions stretched their lead to six points with 6:24 to play. Chantel Stanciel scored the next four points as the Cougars cut the deficit back down to two, but a three by Ben Meis put the squad up by seven. After a quick basket by the Cougars, Dwaun Stewart came up with a steal and completed the three point play to pull Columbia within two with just over a minute to play. Down by three with 20 seconds left in the ball game, the Cougars had the chance to tie, but couldn't connect on two three-point attempts. Freed-Hardeman then went to the line and sealed the victory as Cameron Lewis sunk both foul shots.
Sutton led three Columbia players in double figures with 14 points to go along with 12 from Chantel Stanciel. Travis Vogt chipped in 11 points on the night and Zach Rockers pulled down a team-high five rebounds. The Cougars shot 37 percent from the field as a team, and hit just 7 of 25 tries from distance, but hit 16 of 17 attempts at the free-throw line. The Lions finished at 42 percent from floor and owned a 43-26 advantage on the boards, led by Cameron Lewis with a game-high 21 points.
Columbia will return to action on Thursday, February 5th when they host American Midwest Conference foe Lindenwood-Belleville University. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Arena of Southwell Complex.