With finals in the books and Christmas break about to begin, the Lady Cats had one piece of unfinished business before heading home; a Friday afternoon contest with LSU-Alexandria. The Generals came to Point Lookout as part of an end of semester road swing and an opportunity to experience Ozark Mountain Christmas. The Lady Cats, however, were not quite ready to spread Christ[CP1] mas cheer to the visitors from the south.
Annie Noah dished a pass to Jordan Wersinger for a basket to start the game and the Lady Cats jumped out in front. Noah followed with a bucket of her own and there was an early indication of the kind of night those two Lady Cats would have. Kelsey Thaxton drained a three to get the Generals on the board and the battle was on. Wersinger and Noah teamed up for the next two Lady Cat baskets and the lead was up to 8-3. A pair of LSUA baskets and a free throw would tie the score before Noah connected again. The Generals responded with seven unanswered points and took the lead, 15-10 before Wersinger scored and Kyra Hardesty drained a shot from beyond the arc to tie it at 15. LSUA was determined to keep pace and a pair of free throws gave them a 17-15 lead after the first quarter.
Katie Mayes opened the scoring in the second frame and tied the score at 17. A pair of Blythe Benefield free throws put the Lady Cats back in front, but the lead was short-lived. The two teams traded jabs and the tug of war continued in the second quarter. Kelsey Thaxton found her rhythm and put up the Generals next eight points. Noah, Mayes, and Hardesty, however, teamed up to keep the Lady Cats in front, 31-25. Kayley Frank drilled a three with 2:31 remaining to put the Lady Cats up nine, 34-25, and the Generals needed a timeout. Thaxton connected again before Jordan Wersinger hit a bucket and a free throw to maintain the ten-point Lady Cat lead. The Generals’ Aalliyah Williams scored with :26 remaining and a Lady Cat turnover resulted in a Dannah Martin basket at the buzzer to cut the lead to six, 37-31, heading to intermission.
With the surge at the end of the half, the Generals had the momentum and they wasted no time capitalizing. Raegan Ojoro scored on the first possession of the third quarter and the Lady Cat lead was cut to four. Jordan Wersinger nailed a three to open the Lady Cat scoring and extend the lead back to seven, 40-33 and Annie Noah and Kayley Frank scored to add to the lead. The Generals would not back down and Martin, Ojoro, and Thaxton scored to keep the score close. It appeared the game might be a battle to the end. Gracelyn Adams’ bucket with 5:08 left in the third cut the Lady Cat lead to 46-42 before Grace Steiger and Michelle Gabani scored to build an eight-point advantage. Adams scored the next four LSUA points, but the Lady Cats continued to apply pressure. Blythe Benefield hit four straight from the charity stripe and a Wersinger three and Katie Mayes two bumped the lead to double digits, 59-48. A Kyra Hardesty three with time running out was the boost the Lady Cats needed as they headed to the fourth quarter leading 62-48.
The Generals continued to battle but the Lady Cat attack was too much to overcome. Wersinger, Mayes, Noah, and Gabani added to the Lady Cat lead as the defense did the job on the other end of the floor. The Lady Cats continued to add to the lead and with 2:55 left to play, a Blythe Benefield jumper built a 78-60 Lady Cat advantage. Dani Kerns and Jada Henry finished off the Lady Cat scoring and the win was secured, 85-60
Annie Noah posted another double-double, with 18 points and 16 rebounds and Jordan Wersinger poured in 23 points to pace the Lady Cats. Kyra Hardesty added 14 points with 4-6 shooting from behind the arc and Blythe Benefield tacked on eight points in the win. Katie Mayes added seven points, Kayley Frank – 5, Michelle Gabani and Dani Kerns chipped in three each, and Jada Henry and Grace Steiger each added two.
The Lady Cats will open 2022 on the road at the Governor’s State Classic in University Park, Illinois on January 1-2. They will return home on Wednesday, January 5 when they host Champion Christian College at 5:30.