College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats hosted NAIA Division I Benedictine College (Kan.) on Friday evening and suffered a 63-57 loss. Benedictine entered the game with a 10-2 record, receiving votes in the NAIA DI poll, while C of O held an 8-2 record and a #3 ranking in NAIA DII.
The Lady Cats and Ravens opened with a low-scoring first quarter. Annie Noah tallied the Lady Cats’ first six points before freshman Kayley Frank hit a C of O three-pointer to close out the first-period scoring at 10-9.
Noah opened the second quarter with two baskets to extend the Lady Cat lead to five. The Ravens would pull within two points at the 4:38 mark before an 11-2 Lady Cat scoring rally gave C of O an 11-point advantage with 1:20 to play in the half. An offensive foul and turnover by the Cats, each followed by quick scores, allowed the Ravens to pull within six, as C of O headed to the locker room with a 26-20 lead.
Benedictine shot 20.7% from the field in the first half and made 8 of 16 free throws, while the Lady Cats shot 40% and were 2 for 5 from the free-throw line. Benedictine pulled down 24 rebounds and C of O collected 19.
The Lady Bobcats scored 10 unanswered points to open the third quarter, including three-pointers by Abby Oliver and Aleksei Smith, before Benedictine called a time out. From that point on, the two teams were almost evenly matched in scoring and the quarter closed with the Lady Cats holding a 45-31 lead.
Heading into the fourth, it looked as if the Lady Bobcats were in good shape. However, continued pressure by the Ravens, who pressed the entire game, resulted in an unusual eight Lady Cat turnovers in the fourth quarter alone—22 total on the evening. The Ravens also improved their shooting from 9 of 41 (22%) for the first three quarters to 8 of 17 (47%) in the fourth and finished the game hitting 25 of 41 free throws. The Ravens’ fourth-quarter comeback featured 32 points, versus 12 by the Lady Cats, to capture the upset victory, 63-57.
Leading the Lady Cats in the stat charts were: Annie Noah scoring 17 points and Ashley Forrest pulling down seven rebounds, dishing four assists, and blocking one shot. Grace Steiger also had one block, and Oliver was the only other Lady Cat scoring in double figures for the game with 14 points.
The loss places the Lady Bobcats’ season record at 8-3. C of O will head out on the road for several weeks, with their first trip taking place in Nebraska at the Bellevue Classic on December 29-30. The Lady Cats will look to return to their winning ways as they face two tough opponents in (RV-DII) Bellevue University and (#23-DI) Grand View University (Iowa).