On Tuesday evening, the College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats, currently ranked #6 in NAIA Division II, hosted the NAIA Division I #2 ranked Columbia College Cougars. The Cats held a one-point advantage at the half, but it was the Cougars who came away with a 77-67 victory.
The Cougars opened the game, taking a 9-2 lead over CofO, but the Lady Cats did not back down. They made a run to pull ahead and close out the first quarter with a 14-9 advantage. The second quarter found the two teams battling closely. While Columbia outscored the Lady Cats, College of the Ozarks went to the locker room with a one-point advantage, thanks to a made three-pointer at the buzzer by Ashley Forrest.
After returning to the court following the break, Columbia ‘s shooting picked up, and the Cougars posted 24 points in the third quarter and 28 in the fourth. On the other end of the court, the Lady Cats tallied 17 and 22 points respectively.
Contrary to many recent Lady Cat games, the visiting team held the advantage in three-point shooting. The Cougars drained 12-of-27 (44.4%) treys, while CofO made just 6 of 24 (25%). Columbia collected 36 rebounds to 28 by the Lady Cats, and both teams posted 12 turnovers for the game.
Stat leaders for the Bobcats featured Kelsie Cleeton with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals. Cleeton and Cass Johnson each dished 3 assists. The Cougars were led by Raegen Wieser with 21 points, followed closely by Jordan Alford (18) and Ashlee Marlatt (18).
On a brighter note for the Lady Cats, Cleeton’s eight rebounds placed her as the new Lady Bobcat record holder for career rebounds. The record was previously held for 28 years by CofO Sports Hall of Famer Stacey Fritts (1987-1991), with a total of 1,134. Cleeton has now tallied 1,136 rebounds with ten regular-season and numerous potential post-season games remaining in her career.
The Lady Bobcats will return to action at home this weekend, as they host the CofO/A.I.I. Classic. The Lady Cats will face Northern New Mexico College on Friday and Crowley’s Ridge College on Saturday. Both games will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the Keeter Gymnasium.