Tournament regular Ozarks cruises to second round
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) It wouldn’t be the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships without College of the Ozarks (Mo.). One of four top seeds, the Lady Bobcats had no trouble passing their first test on the national stage. College of the Ozarks limited eighth-seeded Alice Lloyd (Ky.) to 29 percent shooting in a 78-51 blowout victory.
- Now in her fifth season as head coach Becky Vest has led the Lady Bobcats’ program to its 24th all-time appearance at the national championships. College of the Ozarks, a five-time national runner up, is looking for its first-ever national title. Meanwhile, head coach John Mills’ Lady Eagles made their first trip to nationals in school history.
- A stellar defensive team that held opponents to 56.9 points and 37.7 percent shooting this season, the Lady Bobcats were even stingier on Thursday. During a six-minute stretch covering parts of the first and second quarters, Alice Lloyd managed just two field goals as College of Ozarks turned a one-point game into a 12-point lead. Behind four players with exactly 13 points, the Lady Bobcats spent the rest of the contest adding to their lead.
- College of the Ozarks actually shot a much lower percentage than its season norm (39.4 compared to 44.9). It didn’t matter. The Lady Eagles went only 6-for-21 (.286) from 3-point range and turned it over 21 times. The Lady Bobcats also sank 18-of-22 (.818) from the foul line.
- A ferocious rebounder even as a 5-foot-7 guard, Kelise Cleaton totaled 13 points and 12 rebounds to pace College of the Ozarks. Teammates Cassidy Johnson, Shelby Roberts and Lakin Simmerman also recorded points apiece. Simmerman added nine rebounds, just missing a double-double. Off the bench, Abby Oliver put up 11 points in her first career game at the national championships.
- Kayla Wilson topped Alice Lloyd in points (11) and rebounds (eight). Hayley Hall chipped in 10 points and five rebounds.
- The Lady Bobcats will play again on Friday against the winner between fourth-seeded Valley City State (N.D.) and fifth-seeded St. Francis (Ill.). Tipoff is set for 5:15 p.m.