Walnut Ridge Ark. – The Williams Baptist College men's basketball team took on the Cougars of Columbia College, who are ranked third in the NAIA on Thursday night. While the Eagles showed their toughness by hanging with one of the best teams in the country, Columbia was able to shake off Williams in the late minutes of the game and come away from Walnut Ridge with a five-point win.
The Cougars jumped out to an early nine-point lead and it seemed as if they might run away with the contest. WBC brought pressure and got back into the game, however, by cutting the lead to just one point, courtesy of a slam-dunk by junior Tony Jefferies.
The teams went to the half with Columbia leading 35-34.
Junior James McClain rallied the Eagles to a quick five-point run to kick off the second half, but Columbia quickly countered by adding eight of their own points to the scoreboard. McClain, who currently leads the AMC in scoring, displayed his prowess by leading all scorers with 22 points for the night.
Thanks to strong rebounding and shooting, Williams was able to control much of the second half. The Cougars managed to crawl back into the lead, however, with five minutes left on the clock. The late momentum swing allowed Columbia to pull off the narrow victory and walk away from the Southerland-Mabee Center with a 77-72 victory.
"I'm proud of the fight in our guys," said Head Coach Josh Austin. "We never gave up and fought a very good team to the wire. We would've like to pull off the upset, but we think we can do good things if we keep improving."
WBC falls to 8-5 on the season and 2-3 overall. The Eagles will host Missouri Baptist University on Tuesday, January 14, at 7:30 p.m.