The Lady Pioneers of MidAmerica Nazarene University visited Keeter Gym and came out hot Tuesday, Nov. 15. Draining a couple of shots from beyond the arc to start the game, the Lady Cats needed to respond quickly. An Annie Noah fadeaway and traditional three-point play by Blythe Benefield supplied the answer and the battle was on. The teams traded points back and forth, and the score was tied 9-9, with 5:30 left to play in the first.
A turnover forced by Kayley Frank and Blythe Benefield turned into a Frank two pointer to break the tie. MANU’s Ariella Sargent answered with a three of her own and the lead went back to the Lady Pioneers. The Lady Cats kept their composure, putting together a Jordan Wersinger jumper and a couple Frank free throws to regain the lead 17-12 at the three-minute mark. The Pioneers answered with a couple threes, but the Lady Cats held a 19-18 advantage after the opening frame.
Frank quickly opened the scoring for the Lady Cats in the second quarter. The teams then traded possessions until the Pioneers hit their first basket of the quarter at the 8:20 mark. With the Lady Cats clinging to a 21-20 advantage, Annie Noah extended the lead and forced a Pioneer timeout.
The pressure of the Lady Cat defense forced two turnovers soon after, but the Lady Pioneer defense answered back. Scoring stalled for both teams until Lady Pioneer Allison French broke the silence with a three – tying the score at 23 with 4:30 to go. The Lady Pioneers took the lead with a jumper, but Noah served up a basket of her own to tie the score 25-25. Taylor Rush would give the Lady Cats a boost with a bucket, and a Frank two pointer forced another MANU timeout. Neither team would score out of the timeout and halftime would see the Lady Cats leading, 31-27.
As she started off the second quarter, Frank started the scoring with a three-point play and two jumpers to boost the Lady Cat lead to 39-27. Jordan Wersinger drained a free throw to push the Lady Cats to a 40-28 advantage. The teams traded jumpers and possessions until there was 2:00 to go, the Lady Cats up 44-32. A time out by MANU gave the Lady Cats a chance to put together a play and a Wersinger jumper greeted the Pioneers out of the huddle. The Lady Pioneers would not go away, and the quarter ended with the Lady Cats leading 46-36.
Rush drained a three to open the fourth quarter but MANU quickly answered with a three. In pure face off fashion, Rush responded with another three from the corner, forcing MANU into a timeout with the clock at 7:36 and the Lady Bobcats up 52-39. Out of the timeout, Noah put four straight points on the board and the Lady Cats were in control. The teams traded points, with the Lady Pioneers challenging to get back in the contest but C of O answered each challenge to maintain the advantage. As time ran down, the Lady Cats held off any Pioneer comeback efforts and took the game, 63-49.
Frank led the efforts with a double-double with 25 points and 16 rebounds. Wersinger and Noah followed suit with double-digit scoring, adding 11 and 12 respectively. Rush tacked on eight, Blythe Benefield five, and Stevi Jones two in contributing to the Lady Cat win.
The Lady Cats have a couple weeks off before heading to St. Louis to face Fontbonne University.