The College of the Ozarks women’s basketball team entered the 2019-2020 campaign ranked #3 in the NAIA DII Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Preseason Poll. C of O wasted no time testing their mettle, as they played host to a cornucopia of talent in the season opening Lady Bobcat Classic, which included three other nationally ranked teams.
On Friday evening, the reigning National Champions #1 Concordia (Neb.), opened the Classic against #12 Sterling College (Kan.). Concordia used relentless defensive pressure to win in convincing fashion, 107-50, and move on to the 3:00 PM game on Saturday.
In the second game of the evening, the Lady Bobcats took on #2 Southeastern University Fire (Fla.). While Southeastern lost four of five starters from last season’s National Runner-up squad, the Fire reloaded with four Division I transfers. The lone returning starter, Marlena Schmidt, at 6’6, led all of NAIA DII last season with 102 blocks.
The Lady Bobcats went into the game with a focus to keep Schmidt off the boards and successfully drew a quick pair of over-the-back fouls sending Schmidt to the bench. C of O countered the balanced SEU offensive attack with hot first-quarter shooting from distance, recording four three-point makes, to end the first frame down 18-16. In the second quarter the Lady Cats went cold from the outside, hitting just three shots on 13 attempts. Southeastern finished the half on a 7-0 run to go up 12. For the half, Southeastern shot 41% from the field, while the Lady Bobcats managed only 31%.
In the second half, the C of O offense continued to sputter despite Abby Oliver chipping-in eight of her game high 20 points in the third quarter alone. Southeastern managed to extend their lead to 62-40 going into the fourth and never looked back, taking the game 74-56.
While it was tough for the Lady Cats to drop the first game of the year, there was a lot for C of O to be encouraged by. All 11 Lady Bobcats notched double-digit minutes in the game, with nine scoring points.
For more detailed statistics, visit: https://tinyurl.com/yxpg7lb5
Next up for the Lady Bobcats is #12 Sterling at 1:00 PM on Saturday. The Classic will be concluded at 3:00 PM when #1 Concordia will face #2 Southeastern.