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Lady Cats Stay Hot Through Semester Break

Jan 08, 2024

#10 Susie Moran

#22 Kayley Frank

The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats kept the wheels rolling once the semester ended and have remained busy through the break. Getting back to work right after Christmas, the Lady Cats traveled to Bellevue, Nebraska to compete in the Bellevue classic, then traveled to Crowley’s Ridge College (Paragould, AR) the following weekend.

C of O vs Bellevue University – Friday, December 29
The Lady Cats returned to action in the Bellevue Classic after a lengthy break in their action. Having won their last five straight, the Lady Cats had not had a game since December 16, and were looking to continue their streak.

The Lady Cats trailed the Bruins in the early going with Blythe Benefield, Avery Arnold, and Susie Moran carrying the scoring load in the first five minutes of the opening frame. Kayley Frank joined the action just past the midway point and Taylor Rush and Moran closed out the scoring in the first quarter. The Lady Cats trailed 19-17 at the quarter break and they needed to respond.

Benefield opened the scoring in the second quarter and Frank drained a three to give the Lady Cats the lead. Susie Moran became the offense for the Lady Cats as she scored the next 10 points, and the Lady Cat lead grew to 32-24. Logan Jones jumped into the scoring column and back-to-back threes by Frank maintained the Lady Cat lead. Moran tacked on another two and a Frank free throw sent the game to the intermission with the Lady Cats leading 43-34.

Bellevue came out firing in the second half and dropped a three, but a Moran basket and a Logan Jones three held off the challenges. The Bruins were determined to defend their home court, but free throws by Benefield and Frank, combined with solid team defense, kept the Lady Cats in control. Benefield, Moran, and Frank wrapped up the scoring in the third quarter and the Lady Cats were holding on to a 59-51 lead heading to the final 10 minutes.

Bellevue continued to apply pressure and the Lady Cats were tasked with holding them off. Moran and Benefield carried the scoring load through the bulk of the quarter, and solid team defense, again did the rest. A Kayley Frank three with time running down grew the lead to 79-67, but a Bruin two concluded the 79-69 Lady Cat win.

Susie Moran had a career game scoring a career high 34 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. Kayley Frank added 21 points, and Blythe Benefield contributed double figure scoring with 13. Logan Jones chipped in five points and Taylor Rush and Avery Arnold each tacked on three.

C of O vs NAIA #18 Mayville State University – Saturday, December 30
The Lady Cats knew they would have their hands full with Mayville State. The #18 team in the NAIA polls was a talented group and the Lady Cats would need their “A” game.

Logan Jones, Blythe Benefield, and Susie Moran started the Lady Cat scoring, but the Comets opened an 11-2 run to build a 16-6 advantage. Kayley Frank broke the drought for the Lady Cats with a pair of baskets, but the first quarter break saw the Comets leading 21-10.

Frank scored the first four Lady Cat points of the second quarter as well, but the Comets continued to hold off any challenges. Logan Jones added a pair of baskets, but the Comets continued to pull away. The three-point line was a hot topic for Mayville State, but the Lady Cats were unable to connect from long range. The Comets continued to climb, and the Lady Cats struggled to find an answer. Frank and Moran added points and Logan Jones drained a jumper in the final minute of the half, but the Comets held a 43-28 lead at the intermission.

The third quarter was much of the same as the Lady Cats battled but were unable to make up ground. Moran and Frank put points on the board and with 3:29 left in the third, and Taylor Rush drained what would be the only three on the day for the Lady Cats. Kayley Frank converted a traditional three-point play to close out the third quarter scoring but when the dust settled, the Comets were in control, 67-41.

The threes kept falling for the Comets and the Lady Cats were unable to answer. Susie Moran and Keara Mattingly had the only points for the Lady Cats in the first five minutes of the final frame, and Benefield, Mattingley and Abbey Wisdom provided the offense the rest of the way. The Comets took the contest 88-52 and the Lady Cats would need to regroup before their next outing.

Kayley Frank turned in another solid performance with 18 points and seven rebounds. Susie Moran added 12 points and nine rebounds, and Logan Jones tacked on eight points. Keara Mattingley chipped in five, Blythe Benefield contributed four, Taylor Rush added three, and Abbey Wisdom tacked on two.

C of O vs Crowley’s Ridge – January 6
A week removed from their loss to #18 Mayville State, the Lady Cats traveled to Paragould, Arkansas for a Continental Conference matchup with Crowley’s Ridge College.

A Kayley Frank three set the tone in the first minute of the game and Susie Moran kept the ball rolling with a pair of baskets of her own. The early 7-2 lead would not hold up, but Moran and Frank teamed up with a Blythe Benefield three for an 11-2 run. The Pioneers continued to battle, and a late push cut the lead to 22-18 as the first quarter ended.

Keara Mattingley opened the second frame scoring and Benefield and Moran helped keep the distance between the Lady Cats and the home team. Logan Jones added a pair of free throws, and an Avery Arnold jumper bumped the lead to 37-24, but the Pioneers were not ready to concede. Outscoring the Lady Cats 10-6 down the stretch kept the game close. A Blythe Benefield three at the buzzer was the difference between a four or a seven-point lead and the Lady Cats took the 43-36 advantage into the locker room.

The third quarter started with defense as the primary theme as neither team would score until a Moran free throw found the bottom of the net at the 8:33 mark. A Kayley Frank jumper added to the lead and CRC took a timeout. The Pioneers drained a three out of the huddle, but Logan Jones answered with a layup on the other end. Benefield scored then Moran took the reins. Scoring eight of the next 10 Lady Cat points, Moran led the charge to a 62-49 lead at the quarter break.

With just 10 minutes to play, the Lady Cats were looking to solidify the score and secure their 13th win. Frank and Moran opened the scoring and a Benefield layup added to the lead. The Pioneers could feel it slipping away and took another timeout to regroup. A Moran layup greeted them out of the huddle and the Lady Cat lead was 73-57. Abbey Linville and Taylor Rush joined Kayley Frank in the scoring drive and Frank’s second three in the last two minutes opened the lead to 85-63. The Lady Cats just needed to run down the clock. An Abbey Linville three and an Avery Arnold bucket closed out the Lady Cat scoring and secured the 90-74 win.

Susie Moran unleashed for 32 points and 21 rebounds in the win and earned NCCAA Student Athlete of the week honors. Kayley Frank turned in another dominant performance with 21 points and nine rebounds to go with seven assists. Blythe Benefield had another solid game with 16 points, Logan Jones added eight, Abbey Linville chipped in five, Avery Arnold added four, and Taylor Rush and Keara Mattingley each tacked on two.

The Lady Cats will return to action Friday, January 12 in the Florida College Classic.