College of the Ozarks women traveled to Gary, Indiana, to face A.I.I. opponent Indiana University Northwest in day one of the A.I.I. Classic. The host school came out strong in the first half shooting 45% from the field and nailing 5-12 from the three point line to garner a two point lead at half, 34-32. CofO shot a respectable 42% from the field, while maintaining an eleven rebound advantage 24-13. Hannah Wisdom (Skyline) led the Lady Bobcats with seven points.
IUNW came out hot again in the third quarter, quickly netting a pair of threes, while stretching the lead to as many as ten. CofO started their comeback the end of the third quarter, closing the gap to seven. Full court pressure defense in the fourth quarter rattled the Lady RedHawks and generated transition baskets for the Lady Cats. Back to back threes by Cass Johnson (West Plains) early in the fourth quarter gave the Lady Cats the lead 73-69. There were several lead changes in the final minutes before the Lady Cats stretched the lead to as many five before IUNW tied the score. The Lady Cats salted the win away with a pair of free throws by Madi Brethower (Skyline) to take the lead and Shelby Roberts (Bolivar), Uchtman, and Wisdom made free throws down the stretch for the final margin of 80-76.
Cass Johnson led CofO with 16 points. Hannah Wisdom and Kelsie Cleeton (Hillcrest) followed with 13 each, and Brandy Uchtman (Fordland) had 12. Cleeton also led with 9 rebounds. CofO held a commanding advantage in the rebound column, 44-24. They also forced 15 turnovers, on 13 steals, six by Cleeton. Wisdom led with seven assists.
CofO is now 17-3 and will face Rochester (MI) at 11:00 Saturday morning in the final day of the classic.