College of the Ozarks (CofO) women's basketball team traveled to Omaha, Neb., to face Grace University Saturday afternoon and returned home with their 18th victory on the season.
CofO got off to a slow start as Grace jumped out to 5-0 lead. The Lady Cats rallied to claim the lead at the end of the first period 20-19. Grace continued to shoot well, connecting on 63% of their three-point shots and 40% from the field, while CofO shot just 14% from three and 34% from the field in the first half. Despite the poor shooting, Ozarks outscored the Lady Royals 20-14 in the second quarter for a 40-33 half-time advantage. The Lady Cats out rebounded Grace 28-21, including twelve offensive rebounds. CofO also forced nine turnovers against only four of their own.
The tide turned shooting wise for CofO in the second half, as the Lady Cats shot 47% from the field and 31% from three. Grace shot 40% from the field and 20% from behind the arc. Grace also committed ten second half turnovers. CofO led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter and finished with a 79-63 win.
Cass Johnson led the Lady Cats with 19 points. Kelsie Cleeton scored 16 and pulled down 12 rebounds for another double double. Lakin Simmerman tallied 15 points, and Madi Brethower finished with 12. Shelby Roberts and Cleeton each had three assists. Cleeton, who entered the game ranked number one in NAIA DII in rebounds(200) and number three in total steals (61), had six steals.
CofO held a 49-38 rebounding advantage and pulled down twenty offensive rebounds. CofO and Grace both finished with 40% shooting from the field. The Lady Cats shot just 22% from three (6-27), while Grace shot 39% (7-18). Saturday's win improves the Lady Cats' record to 18-1 on the season.
College of the Ozarks will host the women's A.I.I. Classic next weekend, with games being played at 1 and 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Lady Cats' first game will be against Johnson and Wales at 5:00 on Friday. The College of the Ozarks men's team will play at 3 p.m. both days against Johnson and Wales University.
A reminder that the game originally scheduled on Monday, January 15th (as listed on the pocket schedule), versus IUNW has been canceled.