With a pair of Annie Noah double-doubles and several double figure scorers, the Lady Cats extended their win streak to eight games Saturday and defeated Northern New Mexico College and Crowley’s Ridge College to go 2-0 in the Crowley’s Ridge Classic.
C of O vs Northern New Mexico College – Friday, February 3
After nearly a full week break in game play action, the Lady Cats returned to the hardwood Friday to compete in the Crowley’s Ridge College Classic in Paragould, Arkansas. Facing the Eagles of Northern New Mexico College, the Lady Cats were looking for a repeat performance from their 69-56 victory on January 6.
The Eagles landed on the scoreboard first and held an early lead. Taylor Rush scored the first two points for the Lady Cats and the battle was on. NNMC continued to hold a slight lead until the 3:44 mark in the opening frame. Baskets by Annie Noah and Kayley Frank were combined with a pair of Blythe Benefield free throws and the score was knotted at 10. The Eagles continued to hold off the Lady Cat challenges and took a 14-10 lead into the quarter break.
The Eagles continued their attack to start the second stanza and the Lady Cats were not able to put together the needed run. A Kayley Frank layup and a pair of Jordan Wersinger free throws cut the gap to 16-14 before a three by the Eagles extended the deficit to 19-14. The teams traded jabs, but the Eagles maintained a slight advantage. With 2:29 remaining in the half, Annie Noah connected in the lane to cut the gap to 22-20 and then provided a repeat performance on the next possession to tie the score. With 1:03 remaining, Kayley Frank put the Lady Cats on top 24-22 and that score would stand as the teams went to the locker room.
Having claimed some momentum, Kayley Frank started the third quarter scoring to extend the Lady Cat lead. NNMC refused to go away however, and the teams traded points in the early going. A Blythe Benefield layup was followed by a Jordan Wersinger bucket, and the Lady Cats held their largest lead. An Eagle timeout stalled the momentum and with 1:41 left to play, an Eagle three cut the Lady Cat lead to 34-32. Jordan Wersinger provided the answer with a three of her own, but the Eagles responded with a layup and free throw to close out the quarter. The Lady Cat lead was 37-35 with just 10 minutes left to play.
The Lady Cats would need to hold off the challenging Eagles if they were going to duplicate their earlier win. Jordan Wersinger stepped up again to open the final frame scoring and a Frank layup forced a quick NNMC timeout. Isabel Rohlfing greeted the Eagles with a basket out of the huddle and the Lady Cat lead was 43-35. The Eagles answered with a free throw, but Avery Arnold threw down the gauntlet with a deep three to boost the lead to 46-36. Time continued to tick away, and the Lady Cat lead continued to grow. Free throws by Arnold and a pair of baskets by Wersinger increased the advantage and the Lady Cats needed to keep applying pressure. Wersinger, Frank, and Katie Mayes added to the point total and the Eagles could not close the gap. The Lady Cats were able to run the final minute off the clock to secure the 65-43 win.
Jordan Wersinger led all scorers with 18 points to go along with Annie Noah’s double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds. Kayley Frank added 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists to the cause. Blythe Benefield tacked on eight points, Avery Arnold chipped in six, Katie Mayes contributed three and Isabel Rohlfing and Taylor Rush each added two points.
C of O vs Northern New Mexico College – Saturday, February 4
The Lady Cats bounced right back in action the following day and faced the home team, Crowley’s Ridge College Pioneers. Having defeated the pioneers 69-54 in an earlier matchup, the Lady Cats were looking to repeat.
Annie Noah put the Lady Cats on the board first and CRC quickly answered. A Traditional three-point play by Blythe Benefield kept the lead on the side of the Lady Cats, but the Pioneers were determined to defend their home court. Benefield, playing in her hometown, used the adrenaline to rattle off eight straight points and propelled the Lady Cats to an early 9-4 lead. Taylor Rush joined the scoring action with a pair of baskets and the Lady Cat lead grew to 13-4. The Pioneers came charging back and the Lady Cats had to hold them off. Wersinger and Noah capitalized on solid Lady Cat defense and closed out the quarter scoring to give C of O a 22-14 lead at the break.
CRC opened the second quarter scoring with a pair of free throws, but Kayley Frank wasted no time providing a response. Her three with 9:13 remaining was followed by a basket by Isabel Rohlfing and the Lady Cat lead jumped to 27-16. The defense for both teams stepped up over the next couple of minutes and the stalled Lady Cat offense opened the door for the Pioneers. A 9-5 run pulled the Pioneers to within six, 29-23, and the Lady Cats needed to respond. A Katie Mayes three broke through for the Lady Cats, but CRC bounced back with a basket of their own. Blythe Benefield provided the next spark for the offense with a layup and a pair of free throws before Taylor Rush added a basket. The Pioneers were not ready to give in and a pair of threes and four free throws ended the half with a 10-2 Pioneer run. They Lady Cats were clinging to a slim 38-35 lead as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Neither team could put points on the board in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Finally, with 7:48 remaining, a Jordan Wersinger layup broke the silence for the Lady Cats. CRC answered and the battle was on. A pair of Noah baskets built the lead back to seven and a Taylor Rush layup forced a Pioneer timeout. A Pair of CRC free throws out of the huddle were answered by another Taylor Rush three, but the Pioneers were still determined to keep fighting. Another CRC timeout was called after a pair of threes threes by Rush and Benefield were combined with another Wersinger two. Seemingly having the game in hand, the Lady Cat lead was up to 59-41. The Pioneers found new life out of the huddle however and put together a furious 10-0 run to end the frame.
Holding a 59-51 advantage, the Lady Cats needed to regain the momentum. The fourth quarter began the same as the third, with both defenses taking center stage. Neither team could score until a Taylor Rush Layup broke the silence. Jordan Wersinger added to the lead and the Pioneers were held scoreless until the 5:42 mark. Four Pioneer free throws cut the lead to 65-55 with 5:06 remaining, and the home team refused to go away. The Lady Cats continued to hold off the challenges of the Pioneers, but nothing came easy. The Lady Cat defense went into lockdown mode the final 2:34 and a Taylor Rush three and Annie Noah two, would seal the win. A Pioneer basket at the buzzer rounded out the scoring and the Lady Cats took the game with a final score of 74-62.
Taylor Rush led all scorers with 21 points and Jordan Wersinger added 15 points. Another Annie Noah double-double resulted in 14 points and 15 rebounds and Blythe Benefield chipped in 14 points and seven assists in front of her hometown crowd. Kayley Frank added five points, Katie Mayes tacked on three, and Isabel Rohlfing contributed two.
The Lady Cats will be back in action Wednesday as they travel to Davenport, IA to face St. Ambrose University in a 5:30 PM contest.