After a nine-day break in the action for Thanksgiving break, the Lady Cats hit the road and headed to Fulton, Missouri to take on the Owls of William Woods University. With several days of practice and a renewed focus on defense and rebounding, the Lady Cats were anxious to get back to work.
The practice seemed to take effect early as the Lady Cats jumped out to an early 8-0 run with baskets by Kyra Hardesty, Kayley Frank, and a pair by Annie Noah. A three by the Owls’ Amaya Keeling put them on the board with 6:17 remaining in the opening frame. Both teams relied on their defense over the next several minutes as neither team would score until a Jordan Wersinger bucket gave the Lady Cats a 10-3 lead, with 2:45 on the clock. The first Lady Cat three of the game followed out of the hands of Kyra Hardesty, and the lead was 13-3, Lady Cats. Neither team would score the rest of the quarter and the defensive focus was paying off.
The Owls regrouped during the break and came out firing. A quick three, a jumper, and a free throw cut the lead to 13-9. Hardesty launched another trey to open the Lady Cat scoring in the quarter and increase the lead to seven. The defense took over again for both teams and the next points would come from the Owls at the 4:56 mark. An Owls three by Olivia Hanks cut the lead to one, 16-15, but A Stevi Jones trey answered for the Lady Cats. Katie Mayes followed with her first two points of the game and the lead was back to six. Sydney Booker converted a traditional three-point play for the Owls and the pressure was maintained on the Lady Cats. Annie Noah scored with 1:52 remaining in the half and Jordan Wersinger added a pair of baskets to close out the Lady Cat scoring. The Lady Cats headed to the intermission leading 27-23.
The Lady Cats set the tone early in the 3rd quarter with a Kyra Hardesty layup followed by a Kayley Frank three. A pair of Owl free throws opened their second half scoring, but the Lady Cat defense was set to clamp down again. William Woods continued to hang close, but an Annie Noah jumper put the Lady Cats up 11 with 6:07 remaining. The Lady Cats would continue to add to their lead and finished the quarter up 49-33.
The fourth quarter was all Lady Cats. The tough defense was combined with their strong offensive attack and the lead began to grow. With nearly four minutes gone in the frame the Owls had not scored and the Lady Cat lead was 54-33. The Owls would only manage five more points to close out the game and the Lady Cats continued to tack on to their lead. Blythe Benefield and Stevi Jones capped the scoring for the Lady Cats and a 62-38 victory resulted at the buzzer.
Coach Mullis was proud of the defensive effort and had this to say following the game; “William Woods had been averaging 60 points a game. Our focus over the past few days of practice has been defense and rebounding. I am proud of our team and the way we responded. We locked them down and limited their second chance points which showed on the scoreboard.”
The Lady Cats received a balanced scoring attack with Kyra Hardesty pouring in 14, Kayley Frank added 13, and Annie Noah chipped in 11 to go with her nine rebounds. Jordan Wersinger contributed nine points, Katie Mayes six, Stevi Jones – five, Blythe Benefield – three, and Michelle Gabani added one.
The Lady Cats will be back in action Thursday as they travel to Olathe, Kansas to face Mid-America Nazarene in a 5:30 PM start.