College of the Ozarks’ Lady Bobcats put another "W" in the books on Thursday evening, when they traveled to Springfield, Mo. and defeated the NAIA DI Evangel Crusaders for the second time this season. The 83-76 victory by the NAIA DII No. 3 Lady Cats improves their season record to 8-2.
The Lady Cats opened the game with an Annie Noah basket, and Evangel responded with a three-pointer. C of O would go on to take a 4-point advantage with six minutes remaining before Evangel knotted the score at nine apiece and again at 11. The two teams battled, and Evangel pulled within two points with less than a minute remaining. Lady Cats Harper Little and Abby Oliver then proceeded to drain back-to-back three-pointers to close out the first period with an eight-point lead, 25-17.
In the second quarter, the Lady Bobcats extended their advantage to as many as 12 points before the Crusaders would make a 14-5 run to pull within two points at the break, trailing the Cats, 37-39.
For the half, C of O shot 45.5% from the field versus 38.9% by Evangel, but the Crusaders gave the ball up only six times to eight turnovers by the Lady Cats. Oliver led the scoring for the Cats with 14 points, draining three treys.
CofO returned to the court with four quick points by Noah for a six-point advantage, but the Crusaders would push back once again and draw within one point at 44-45. Another three-point basket by Oliver, followed by a Kyra Hardesty triple, pushed the Lady Cats back in control, and they closed out the third period ahead 61-53.
The Lady Cats and Crusaders did battle throughout the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats held on to capture a seven-point win, 83-76.
Junior guard Abby Oliver led all scorers with a career-high 26 points. Senior Ashley Forrest and freshman Julie Stone also scored in double figures with 11 and 10, respectively. Senior Aleksei Smith pulled down a team-leading 6 rebounds and nabbed 2 steals. Forrest dished 5 assists, and sophomore Michelle Gabani recorded 3 blocks.
For the game the Lady Cats shot 42.4% from the field and hit 18-20 (90%) from the free-throw line. C of O also committed only two turnovers in the second half for a total of 10 versus eight in the half by Evangel for a total of 14.
The Lady Cats will return to their home court on Friday, December 20, with a 5:30 p.m. game against Benedictine College.