The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcat basket seemed to have a lid on it at Keeter Gymnasium Friday night, especially in the second and fourth quarters. The Lady Cats shooting woes proved to be costly down the stretch and the Southwestern Christian University Eagles took the contest 65-49.
The game began as a shootout with the two teams trading baskets in the early going. Thamiras Andrade started the Eagle offense and Annie Noah provided the Lady Cat response. A Tresha Yager three kept the Eagles on top but Kayley Frank promptly answered, and the score was tied, 5-5. Michelle Gabani gave the Lady Cats their first lead with a pair of free throws at the 7:11 mark, but the Eagles wasted little time evening the score. SWCU regained the lead with 5:26 remaining but a Kyra Hardesty three put the Lady Cats back in front. After a pair of buckets by the Eagles, Kyra Hardesty drained another from long range and the score was tied at 13. The defense for both squads would dominate the next 1:38 before an Abbey Phibbs basket gave the Eagles the slight advantage. Grace Steiger tied it again with her first bucket of the game and Blythe Benefield hit a pair of free throws to put the Lady Cats on top, 17-15. A pair of Kayley Frank free throws and a Katie Mayes bucket closed out the quarter with the Lady Cats leading 21-17.
The second quarter saw both teams go cold from the field. Christina Jenkins scored for the Eagles to cut the Lady Cat lead to 21-19 and a Kaitin Taylor three put the eagles on top, 22-21. Trip after trip on offense, the basket was elusive and neither team could gain an advantage. Time ticked off the clock and the defensive battle continued. Both teams would go scoreless until Thamires Andrade put up five unanswered points to give the Eagles a 27-21 lead. The Lady Cats could not find the bottom of the net until Blythe Benefield drained a free throw at the 2:03 mark in the quarter. The Eagles, on the other hand, broke through to outscore the Lady Cats 17-4 and take a 34-25 lead into the intermission.
The Lady Cats came out in the third quarter determined to put points on the board. Kyra Hardesty drained another trey and Michelle Gabani hit a pair of free throws to get the Lady Cat offense going. The Lady Cats also did their part on defense and held the Eagles without a point for the first 3:28 of the frame. Buckets by Anni Noah and Michelle Gabani closed the gap to two, 36-34 with 5:15 remaining. The Eagles got back on the board with a traditional three-point play by Abbey Phibbs and it was just enough to hold off the Lady Cat charge. Annie Noah scored in the paint to cut the deficit to three and it felt like the Lady Cats were on the verge of taking over. SWCU continued to hold off the challenges of the Lady Cats, however, and led 45-41 after three.
The Lady Cat shooting woes resurfaced in the fourth quarter and things quickly slipped out of reach. The Eagles started the frame on a 5-0 run before a Jordan Wersinger basket put the Lady Cats back in the scoring column. Kayley Frank scored at the 6:20 mark to cut the Eagle lead to six, 53-47 but another dry spell hit for the Lady Cats and they would go the next 4:43 without a point. Kayley Frank scored at the 1:37 mark to end the drought and that would be all the points the Lady Cats would get. The Eagles, however, continued to add to their lead and took the contest 65-49.
The Lady Cats were led by Kyra Hardesty’s 15 points and Kayley Franks’ 11. Annie Noah and Michelle Gabani each tacked on six while Blythe Benefield chipped in five and Grace Steiger, Katie Mayes, and Jordan Wersinger each added two.
The Lady Cats will be back in action at home on Friday, December 17 again LSU Alexandria in a 1 PM start.