The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats returned to the friendly confines of Keeter Gymnasium Tuesday night to take on Arkansas Baptist College. The Lady Bobcats had defeated the Buffalo in Little Rock on January 29th in a lopsided contest, 80-41. Arkansas Baptist came to Point Lookout looking to change that outcome in the second meeting.
Arkansas Baptist jumped on the board quick with a three by Anna Kassim but Jordan Wersinger answered for the Lady Cats to start a 6-0 run. Arkansas Baptist challenged the Lady Cats, but a balanced attack led to an early lead. Both teams struggled offensively after the initial scoring burst, but the Lady Cats slowly built their lead. A Kyra Hardesty three put the Lady Cats up 9-5 with 6:44 remaining in the opening frame. Kayley Frank followed with a basket to put the Lady Cats up 11-5 and both teams went cold from the field. Neither team would score until Anna Kassim found the bottom of the net for Arkansas Baptist with 2:18 left to play. Aaliyah Bynum added a jumper to cut the Lady Cat lead to 11-9 before Kayley Frank broke the Lady Cat scoring drought at the 1:14 mark. Going over three minutes without scoring, the Lady Cats had relied on their defense to maintain control of a narrow lead. Kyra Hardesty connected from long range with :29 left on the clock and the Lady Cats led 16-9 after the first quarter.
Jordan Wersinger started the second quarter scoring with a conventional three-point play and the Lady Cats reached their largest lead, 19-9. Arkansas Baptist refused to go away and continued to battle. Another Bynum basket cut into the lead, but Blythe Benefield went on an 8-0 run with a basket and a pair of threes to extend the lead to 27-15. Arkansas Baptist took a timeout to regroup and it seemed to cool off the offense for both teams. Neither team would score for the next 2:31. Ariel Jefferson broke through for Arkansas Baptist with 3:54 left in the half and cut the lead back to nine with a traditional three-point play. The Lady Cats were unable to find the bottom of the net until a Jada Henry basket at the 2:35 mark. Arkansas Baptist continued to chip away at the lead and whittled it down to single digits with :13 left in the half. Jada Henry connected on a pair of free throws with :07 remaining and a desperation shot by Arkansas Baptist came up short to send the Lady Cats to the intermission leading 33-22.
The third quarter was all Lady Cats. Jordan Wersinger opened the scoring with a pair of baskets, but Arkansas Baptist matched the output. Wersinger and Frank then combined for eight unanswered points to force an Arkansas Baptist timeout. Samiyah Brown broke the Baffalo drought but the Lady Cat attack continued. This time Kayley Frank had the hot hand, carrying the Lady Cats to a 14-2 run, scoring 10 points in the stretch. Wersinger and Noah each added a basket to give the Lady Cats a 56-30 lead heading into the final break.
Blythe Benefield opened the fourth quarter scoring and the Lady Cats were set to cruise through the final 10 minutes. Arkansas Baptist was determined to continue battling but the Lady Cats had a different plan. Katie Mayes, Cameran Martin and Jada Henry continued the Lady Cat offensive attack and with 3:49 remaining in the game, the lead had grown to 72-37. The Lady Cat defense continued to stifle the Buffalo and Cameran Martin finished off the Lady Cat scoring with the final four points to secure the 76 -39 win.
The win gave the Lady Cats their fifth in a row and their 10th in their last 11 contests. Jordan Wersinger led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Kayley Frank with 17, and Blythe Benefield with 10. Kyra Hardesty added eight points while Jada Henry, Katie Mayes, and Cameran Martin each tacked on six. Annie Noah contributed four to go with her nine rebounds in the win.
The Lady Cats are back in action Saturday, February 12 at 1:00 when they host Baptist Bible College at Keeter Gymnasium.