With 6:46 left in the game Saturday afternoon, the Lady Cats trailed the William Woods Owls, 60-48, and things looked grim for C of O. However, when a team is used to winning, they seem to find a way. With winning tradition and expectations on their side, the Lady Cats refused to surrender, and the result was one Coach Becky Mullis will and the Lady Cats will be able to build on as the season progresses.
The opening frame looked to set the tone for the rest of the contest as the teams traded baskets from the tip. The Owls took the early lead, but Kayley Frank answered with a pair of free throws and the tug of war was on. Neither team would flinch as point by point one team continued to answer the other. The Owls connected on a three at the 4:49 mark and the Lady Cats missed a shot on their trip down the floor. WWU then hit a jumper and it looked as though they might grab the momentum, leading 11-6. Jordan Wersinger and Annie Noah responded with baskets, however, and the gap was cut to one, 11-10. The Owls continued to hold a narrow advantage until a pair of Kayley Frank Free throws, with 1:56 remaining, gave the Lady Cats their first lead. The two teams traded baskets again and another Frank free throw sent the game to the quarter break with the Lady Cats leading 16-15.
Using baskets from Wersinger and Blythe Benefield, the Lady Cats maintained an advantage until the 8:03 mark in the second frame. A Ruthie Brown Layup puled the Owls even and the battle was back at center stage. Katie Mayes jumped into the scoring column to keep the Lady Cats on top at the 7:34 mark and then hit a three on the next possession to build the lead to five, 26-21. A Wersinger layup then gave the Lady Cats their biggest lead, 28-21. William Woods was still not ready to concede and they came back with a vengeance. A jumper and a pair of threes were unanswered by the Lady Cats and the Owls quickly took a 29-28 lead. Frank connected on another pair of free throws and the Lady Cats were back in front with 3:12 left to play in the half. A Jersee Wren layup put the Owls back on top, 31-30, at the 2:16 mark, and that would be all the offense in the first half.
The back-and-forth battle would continue in the third quarter with the Owls grabbing the early momentum. As the Owls began to heat up from the field, the Lady Cats were unable to keep pace. WWU slowly added to their lead and a Katie Keilholz three bumped the advsntage to 46-40. Another made basket and a free throw began to spell trouble for the Lady Cats and a timeout was needed to stop the run. Kayley Frank drove to the basket for two out of the huddle and then connected on a pair of free throws to cut into the lead. While Wersinger had kept the Lady Cats close early in the quarter, Frank kicked up the offense to get the Lady Cats back into contention. Another layup and another pair of Free throws later, and the Lady Cats were back within one, 49-48. The Owls responded with a trio of free throws and the game would move to the final 10 minutes with the Lady Cats trailing 52-48.
The opening minutes of the fourth quarter seemed to spell disaster for the Lady Cats. A three and a pair of Owl layups expanded the gap to 59-48 and the Lady Cats were not able to find the basket. Coach Mullis took a timeout to regroup but the strategy only seemed to take effect on the defensive side of the ball. The Owls connected on a free throw to go up 60-48 with 7:31 remaining and the Lady Cats were still struggling to score. The defense had to step up or the game would quickly be out of hand. With their backs to the wall and time ticking down, the Lady Cats needed a push to get back in the game. The Lady Cat defense did the job and held WWU scoreless until the 6:43 mark. Still trailing 60-48, Kayley Frank broke the ice with a deep three to start the rally. The defense continued to hold and free throws by Wersinger and Benefield cut the lead to six, 60-54. WWU stopped the drought with a basket at the 4:31 mark but Annie Noah immediately answered. WWU needed a timeout, but they were greeted with another Noah basket out of the huddle and the gap was cut to four, 62-58, with 3:25 remaining. The defense continued to stay strong as the Lady Cats chipped away at the deficit. A conventional three-point play off a Wersinger layup clearly had the momentum on the side of the Lady Cats. An Owl turnover and a Stevi Jones basket gave the Lady Cats the lead with 1:19 to play and WWU was feeling the pressure. Timeouts by both teams took the clock down to :20 with the Lady Cats clinging to a 63-62 lead. With the ball in the hands of the Lady Cats, a quick foul put Wersinger back on the line to pad the lead. She connected on both free throws, and it was up to WWU to extend the game. With time ticking away, a Jersee Wren three found the bottom of the net with :02 left and the clock expired sending the game to overtime.
The Lady Cats opened the scoring in the extra frame with a Jordan Wersinger basket on the first possession. Wersinger then nailed a jumper with another minute gone off the clock and the Lady Cat advantage grew to 69-65. The Owls continued to battle, and a pair of free throws cut the lead to 69-67 with 2:31 left to play. The Owls had no answer for Jordan Wersinger in the overtime and her jumper with 1:19 left made it a two-possession game. The Owls were unable to find the basket and Wersinger finished off the game with a pair of free throws, sealing the win, 73-67. The final score included a 25-7 run to finish out the game and complete the comeback for the Lady Cats. The comeback was great testament to the defense and determination of the Lady Cats.
Wersinger led all scorers with 29 points, including eight in the overtime. Kayley Frank (20 pts./11 reb.) and Annie Noah (12 pts./14 reb.) recorded double-doubles for the second consecutive game and the Lady Cat defense took care of business down the stretch for the win. Katie Mayes, Blythe Benefield, and Stevi Jones rounded out the Lady Cats scoring with five, four, and three points respectively.
The Lady Cats are back in action Tuesday when they travel to St. Louis to take on Missouri Baptist University in a 5:30 PM start.