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Lady Cats Extend Win Streak

Feb 01, 2024

#31 Abbey Linville

#22 Kayley Frank

Lawrence, KS - Nearly a week after their 94-44 drubbing of Ecclesia College at Keeter Gymnasium, the College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats traveled to Lawrence, Kansas Thursday evening to face a tough Haskell Indian Nations squad. The Lady Cats were looking to extend their latest win streak to four but would have their hands full in making it happen.

The opening minutes of the contest set the stage for what would be an intense battle the rest of the night. Kayley Franks’ traditional three-point play to open the scoring was quickly matched by a three for the home team, and the race was on. The teams traded baskets with Frank and Blythe Benefield driving to the basket for layups and Taylor Rush draining a three to give the Lady Cats a 10-9 advantage at the 5:41 mark. A pair of Haskell free throws would flip the lead again and Keara Mattingley provided the response to send it back to the Lady Cats. A Haskell three-point play returned the lead to the home team until a Benefield layup tied the score at 14. An Abbey Linville three put the Lady Cats on top with 2:25 left in the period but the Indians answered with a layup. The defense took over for both teams and the next bucket would be for Haskell with :57 showing on the clock. A HINU three moments later increased their lead to 21-17 before a Susie Moran bucket, with time winding down, ended the frame with Haskell leading 21-19.

As evidenced by the opening minutes, the rest of the first period continued to be a tug of war. Defense was the name of the game to start the second period with only a Haskell bucket on the board through the first 4:49. A pair of Haskell threes lengthened the Lady Cat deficit, and their cold spell. Trailing 29-19 with 3:26 left in the half, Abbey Linville connected from deep to break the Lady Cat silence. Haskell continued to apply more pressure, both literally and figuratively, as they scored the next five points to extend their lead. Coach Mullis took a timeout to regroup, and Abbey Linville responded with a three out of the huddle. A Haskell layup bumped the score to 36-25 and the Lady Cats needed offense. The Lady Cat defense did the job on one end and Logan Jones connected for three, then sank a two to close out the frame. The Lady Cats had begun their comeback, and the gap was reduced to 36-30 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

The Lady Cats came out of the intermission ready to fight their way back. A pair of Taylor Rush baskets and a couple of Frank layups were combined with a Susie Moran basket to complete a 15-2 Lady Cat run, going back to the end of the half. The Lady Cats had regained the lead, and the intensity grew. The Indians continued to apply full court pressure and the Lady Cats were obliged to play an up-tempo game. Haskell finally broke out of their slump and put the next five points on the board. The back-and-forth action continued, and one jab was answered with another. Frank, Benefield, and Moran answered the challenges of the Indians and neither team would give in. With :18 remaining in the period, Logan Jones scored to tie the score at 51. Haskell answered with a bucket as time ran out and the home team took a 53-51 advantage into the final 10:00.

The fourth quarter was more of the same as each team refused to budge. Keara Mattingley opened the scoring and tied it 53-53, but Haskell bounced right back to regain the lead. A free throw and a three for the home team seemed to spell trouble for the Lady Cats before Taylor Rush and Abbey Linville answered the call. A Rush three was followed by a pair of Linville free throws and a three, and the score was knotted at 61 apiece. Haskell continued to hold the upper hand as the battle waged on. Point by point, each team worked to gain a sizable advantage. Benefield and Moran teamed up to put the Lady Cats on top, but the lead was short-lived. A Haskell three was the home team response before Blythe Benefield flipped the lead again with a pair of free throws. Frank and Benefield provided a one-two punch, and the Lady Cats held their biggest lead, 73-68. With 3:10 left to play, it was now up to the Lady Cats to hold off the challenges, and Haskell had different plans. As time was winding down, Kayley Frank scored a pair of key buckets and the Lady Cat lead was 77-74, with :25 left. An Abbey Linville free throw put icing on the cake as the defense held firm, and the buzzer sounded. The Lady Cats had come from behind and earned a hard-fought road victory to extend their current win streak to four.

In a solid team effort, Kayley Frank led the charge with 20 points, followed by Abbey Lineville with 15, Blythe Benefield with 13, and Taylor Rush with 10. Susie Moran logged nine points and 12 rebounds in the win and Logan Jones and Keara Mattingley finished with seven and four points respectively.

The Lady Cats move to 18-6 on the year and will return to action on Tuesday, February 6 when they travel to Central Baptist College in Conway, Arkansas for a 5:30 PM start.