BETHALTO — The Civic Memorial Eagles gave the type of effort head coach Doug Carey has been waiting for all season.
The Eagles played stout defense and 6-foot-8 senior Jakob Lowrance scored 26 points as CM defeated the Columbia Eagles 50-39 on Tuesday in Bethalto.
With the win CM improved to 15-8 on the season, while Columbia slipped to 14-7.
“They're a really good team,” Carey said of Columbia. “They shoot the ball really well and finally we came out and defensively played like we're supposed to play. We haven't been playing defensively very well, but tonight we came out and got on the shooters, defended the post pretty well. We just did a real good job defensively and I'm pretty proud of the way we played today.”
While Carey was ecstatic over the play of his squad, on the other side Columbia head coach Mark Sandstrom thought his team turned in one of its worst performances of the year.
“That was uncharacteristic of us,” Sandstrom said. “We got out hustled tonight, we got out rebounded tonight, I just didn't recognize that team out there tonight. I don't know what it was because honestly we've got a great group of kids that compete every night. I would say this tonight was the first night all year where we didn't have energy and enthusiasm. We have to get all the loose balls. We have to out rebound people, because our margin of error is very, very slim. You've got to give CM credit, they were the aggressor.
“We wanted to take Lowrance away and he had 14 points in the first quarter, so we didn't do a very good job there. He was No. 1, 2 and 3 in the pecking order and he outscored us in the first quarter and that shows you right there what kind of mental state that we were in at the beginning of the game.”
Lowrance has been on a tear as of late. He had surpassed 30 points in three of his last four games entering Tuesday and scored his 14 in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 26.
He surpassed Nic Stotler (1,253) for fourth on the all-time scoring list on Tuesday. The Central Missouri-bound Lowrance now has 1,277 points in his career.
“He's shooting it real well and a big part of that is we're getting him the ball on time in a spot where he can score,” Carey said. “Early in the year we were waiting too long and getting it to him too late. Now we're getting him the ball in the right spots and he's turning around and scoring. He did a really good job tonight.”
Lowrance had CM ahead 5-1 after a bucket in the paint and a 3-pointer to start the game. Columbia responded to go up 6-5 with a trey by Jonathan Holmes and a 2-pointer by Drew Huebner. That proved to be the only lead of the game for Columbia.
Lowrance sank another 3-pointer to put CM up 8-6 and after two free throws by Columbia's Korbin Farmer knotted it at 8-8, a basket from CM's Brett Lane at the 3:45 mark of the first quarter made it 10-8 and CM never looked back. Lowrance scored the final six points of the frame for CM and when the buzzer sounded the purple and gold were ahead 16-12.
A strong second quarter pushed CM in front 30-20 at the break.
Columbia showed some life in the third quarter. A basket by Jordan Holmes with 5:05 left in the third dwindled it to 32-27. Columbia outscored CM 10-6 in the stanza, but still trailed 36-30 entering the final eight minutes.
“I don't have an answer,” Sandstrom said of why his squad could never get over the hump and play with intensity on Tuesday. “If I had an answer I'd write a book and make a lot of money.”
Brett Lane supplied the nail in Columbia's coffin to start the fourth quarter. The CM junior nailed back-to-back treys to open the fourth-quarter scoring which catapulted his team ahead 42-30. Columbia could never get closer than seven points again. Lane finished with 10 points to complement Lowrance.
“Those were two big 3s and he hasn't shot the ball all that well this season,” Carey said of Lane. “But we still have confidence in the way he's shooting for him to shoot the ball. We want him to shoot it if he's open and he knocked them down.”
For a team that dropped its fair share of tight ball games early in the year, Carey thought CM's ability to overcome a rough third quarter showed the team's maturity.
“We had a rough third quarter, fourth quarter we didn't take care of the ball the way we wanted to,” Carey said. “That's a game that early in the season we probably would have kicked away. We're getting better and making improvements and that's all that matters.”
CM 50, COLUMBIA 39
Columbia 12 8 10 9 — 39
CM 16 14 6 14 — 50
CM (15-8) — Adam Hill 2, Brett Lane 10, Jaquan Adams 6, Zack Lehnen 6, Jakob Lowrance 26. 2FG — 14 3FG — 4 FT — 10 PF — 10
COLUMBIA (14-7) — Ryan Gudeman 7, Jordan Holmes 11, Jonathan Holmes 8, Drew Huebner 2, Korbin Farmer 9. 2FG — 9 3FG — 3 FT — 10 PF — 12