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Lady Cats Split Pair in Haskell Classic

Jan 20, 2024

#13 Blythe Benefield

The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats returned to action Friday after competing in the Florida College Classic a week earlier. The Lady Cats split their two games in Florida and were looking to get their streak moving back in the right direction.

C of O vs Northern New Mexico College – Friday, January 19
Blythe Benefield opened the scoring after a pair of missed NNMC free throws, but an Eagle response would soon follow. The Lady Cat offense was slow to get started while the Eagles opened the game on fire. Several threes and a handful of layups put the Lady Cats in a first quarter hole. Benefield, Kayley Frank, Susie Moran and Logan Jones put points on the board in the early going but the Eagles, behind five of nine shooting from behind the arc, held a 29-14 advantage after the opening frame.

Avery Arnold opened the second quarter scoring and the Eagles answered with a three on the other end. Logan Jones responded with a three of her own, but the Eagles continued their hot shooting and drained yet another from deep. The Lady Cats were going to have to amp up the defensive side of the game if they were going to claw their way back. A pair of Benefield free throws and a Moran basket cut the gap to 35-23, but the Eagles continued to stay hot on the offensive end. Another pair of Eagle baskets bumped the deficit and the Lady Cats needed to make a move. Moran drained a pair from the charity stripe and Abbey Linville drove for a layup, but the Eagles continued to answer. Linville nailed one from beyond the arc and the Eagles matched it. The Eagles continued to attack, and the Lady Cats went to the intermission trailing 51-35.

The Eagles put the first four points on the board in the second half before a Susie Moran bucket opened the Lady Cat scoring. The Eagles continued their assault from deep and the Lady Cats desperately needed a run. The gap continued to grow and with time winding down in the third stanza, another Eagles’ three forced a Lady Cat timeout. Trailing 71-43, the Lady Cats were running out of time to turn the tide. A pair of Eagle free throws was followed by an Avery Arnold three at the buzzer, and with 10 minutes left to play, the Lady Cats were trailing 73-46.

Kayley Frank sandwiched a pair of free throws and a three around an Eagles two, to open the final Stanza. The Lady Cats had a lot of ground to make up, with very little time to make it happen. Early fouls by the Eagles gave the Lady Cats opportunities for points with the clock stopped and Susie Moran and Avery Arnold capitalized. A rebound and putback cut the gap to 77-57 and the Lady Cats were chipping away. Still struggling to score from the field, offensive rebounds and free throws would be the key to a possible comeback. A Moran traditional three-point play cut the gap to 78-60 and full court pressure led to a Benefield three from deep to cut the gap further. A Logan Jones basket cut the deficit to 15 and it was now or never time for the Lady Cats. An Avery Arnold three, a Linville layup, and a Moran free throw cut the gap to nine and the Lady Cats were within striking distance. A pair of Frank free throws cut the gap to 80-73 before an Eagle three broke the momentum. Frank responded with a three of her own and the gap was cut to 83-76. With less than a minute to play, the Lady Cats had to foul, and The Eagles would have to secure the win from the line. A Linville three made it a five-point game with :39 remaining, but key Eagle free throws kept the game out of reach and the comeback fell short, 90-81.

The Lady Cats logged five in double figures with Susie Moran leading the way with 21 points and 18 rebounds. Kayley Frank poured in 19 points, Blythe Benefield added 12, and Avery Arnold and Abbey Linville each tacked on 10. Logan Jones nearly added double figures with her nine points.

C of O vs Wilberforce University – Saturday, January 20
Looking to bounce back after a tough loss the day before, the Lady Bobcats were set to face the Bulldogs of Wilberforce University.

Kayley Frank opened the scoring for the Lady Cats and a Taylor Rush three gave the Lady Cats the early 5-0 lead. The Bulldogs quickly responded, and the battle was on. The teams traded points with the Lady Cats using threes by Abbey Linville and Avery Arnold, along with free throws from Frank and Blythe Benefield to secure 17-11 lead at the quarter break.

The Bulldogs scored to open the second frame and Abbey Linville provided the Lady Cat response with another three. Taylor Rush joined in with a three and the Lady Cats were pulling away. Leading 23-15, a pair of free throws, and a Taylor Rush bucket was combined with a Susie Moran two that capped a 9-0 Lady Cat run. The Bulldogs broke their silence with a three at the 4:52 mark but the Lady Cats continued to apply pressure. A pair of Moran free throws bumped the lead to 31-20 before the Bulldogs put together a run of their own to close out the half. The Bulldogs scored six unanswered points before Blythe Benefield closed out the half with a jumper in the lane. The Lady Cats took a 33-26 lead to the intermission.

Benefield picked up where she left off in the first half and scored the first five second half points for the Lady Cats. The Bulldogs were contained by the Lady Cat defense and a Susie Moran bucket was combined with a Benefield layup to finish a 10-2 run opening the third quarter. WU tried to battle back but the Lady Cats continued to answer the challenges. Baskets by Taylor Rush and Moran were combined with a trio of Moran free throws and the Lady Cat lead was bumped to 48-34, with 2:33 left to play in the third. The Bulldogs scored the final two buckets of the frame, and the Lady Cats held a 48-38 advantage heading to the final 10 minutes of the game.

The Lady Cats were tasked with turning in a solid fourth quarter to secure the win, and the Bulldogs were determined to turn the tide. A pair of Moran free throws were followed by a pair of Logan Jones threes and the Lady Cats were maintaining control. The Bulldogs could only keep pace and a pair of Moran buckets gave the Lady Cats a 63-47 advantage with 5:29 left to play. Each Challenge presented by the Bulldogs was met with Lady Cat resistance and baskets by Moran and Frank were added to a Rush three to bump the score to 70-52. The Lady Cats were content to run down the clock and secured the win, 72-59.

Susie Moran logged another double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds to lead the way. Kayley Frank and Taylor Rush added 13 points each, and Blythe Benefield and Logan Jones chipped in 10 and nine points respectively. Abbey Linville chipped in six and Avery Arnald tacked on three.