After an 11-day break and almost a month away from Keeter Gym, the College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats hosted the Bulldogs from McPherson College Wednesday night. Lady Cat Senior Annie Noah was honored prior to the game for reaching the 1000-point milestone, and Lady Cat assistant coach, Steve Frank was recognized for his recent induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
McPherson jumped on the board first with a three, but the Lady Cats quicky answered with a Jordan Wersinger two. McPherson continued to hold the lead until a Taylor Rush three put the Lady Cats up 7-5 with 16:19 showing on the clock. The two teams traded baskets until Annie Noah, Kayley Frank, and Taylor Rush scored seven unanswered points to boost the lead to 16-7. McPherson began to battle back as the opening frame wound down, but the Lady Cats held a 21-12 lead heading to the second quarter.
After a quick bucket by the Bulldogs opened the second quarter scoring, Kayley Frank responded with a traditional three-point play and the Lady Cat lead was up to 24-14. The defense for both teams took center stage over the next several minutes as the basket was elusive on both ends of the floor. The Bulldogs scored at the 7:13 mark and followed with a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 24-18, Blythe Benefield scored for the Lady Cats with 5:35 remaining in the half and both teams were hoping to get the offense back on track. A Taylor Rush three pushed the lead back to double digits and the Lady Cat defense continued to keep the Bulldogs in check. With no field goals since the 7:13 mark, the Bulldogs took a timeout to try and regroup. Annie Noah, Jordan Wersinger, and Kayley Frank added to the Lady Cat lead and the lid remained tightly sealed on the Bulldog basket. A pair of Bulldog free throws with less than a minute left in the half cut the lead to 35-20. An Annie Noah free throw was followed by another pair of free throws by the Bulldogs and the Lady Cats took a 36-22 lead to the break.
As was the case in the second quarter, Kayley Frank put the Lady Cats on the board to start the third. A pair of Taylor Rush free throws and baskets by Blythe Benefield and Kayley Frank capped a 12-2 run to open the quarter and the Bulldogs took another timeout with 5:39 left on the clock. Leading 48-24, the Lady Cats had taken control of the contest and the defense continued to dominate the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs began to find the rim and scored four unanswered points, but the Lady Cats still held a commanding 55-29 lead with 3:22 remaining. Jada Henry joined the scoring ranks with a deep three at the 3:00 mark. Isabel Rohlfing and Katie Mayes scored in the last minute of the frame and the Lady Cat lead was 62-34. A Bulldog free throw was followed by a Wersinger bucket at the buzzer and the Lady Cats led 64-35 with the final 10 minutes left to play.
With the contest well under control, Hannah Evans scored the first two points of the final stanza and Annie Noah followed with a basket of her own. The Lady Cat defense continued to dominate, and a Taylor Rush layup increased the advantage to 72-35. A Bulldog three broke through for the visitors but another Rush layup provided the answer. It was just a matter of running down the clock for the Lady Cats to seal the win. Kayley Frank added four points to her total and the lead was up to 78-38. The Bulldogs continued to battle but the Lady Cats answered every challenge, maintaining a firm grasp on control of the contest. Avery Arnold drained a three with 2:25 left to play and Jada Henry followed suit with a three of her own to boost the score to 92-44. Isabel Rohlfing scored inside to close out the scoring for the Lady Cats and the win was in the books, 94-46.
The Lady Cats were led by Kayley Frank’s 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Taylor Rush poured in 15 points, Jordan Wersinger added 12, and Annie Noah chipped in nine points to go with her 14 rebounds. Isabel Rohlfing also added nine points and Jada Henry and Katie Mayes each tacked on seven. Hannah Evans and Blythe Benefield contributed four each and Avery Arnold added three to round out the scoring.
The Lady Cats now head to Hawaii for the Hoops in Hawaii Holiday Classic. With three games in as many days, the Lady Cats will face Hawaii Pacific University at 6 PM Saturday, University of Providence at 7:45 PM Sunday, and Menlo College at 9 PM Monday.