OMAHA, NEBRASKA: The Grace University women's basketball team played their first game of the semester at home on Saturday, January 6, against the College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats. After being down by 33-40 at halftime, the Royals fell to the Lady Bobcats 63-79. College of the Ozarks, who ranks #4 in the NAIA, is now 18-1 on the season, while the Royals' record fell to 7-10.
The Royals came out strong in Saturday's matchup, grabbing a quick 5-0 advantage in the first minute of the game. After 5 lead changes and 2 ties, the Royals were only down 1 at 19-20 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the teams continued to play each other evenly; the Bobcats increased their lead to as many as 10 points with a 9-0 run that brought the score to 23-33. The Royals narrowed the gap to 4 points at 33-37 in the last ten seconds of the half until a last-second 3-pointer from gave the Lady Bobcats a 7-point advantage going into the second half.
In the second half, the Royals contained the Lady Bobcats' lead, not allowing them to lead by more than 12 points until the last minute of the third quarter when a bucket from the Lady Bobcats gave them a 51-64 advantage. The Lady Bobcats went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter, increasing their lead to 20 points at 51-73 with seven minutes left in the game. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Royals were down 55-77; they scored an additional 8 points while holding the Lady Bobcats to just 2 points to close the game. The final score was 63-79.
The Royals shot 40% from the field (22 of 55), 38.9% from beyond the arc (7 of 18), and 66.7% from the free throw line (12 of 18); they shot 63% from the 3-point line in the first half. The Lady Bobcats shot 39.7% from the field (31 of 78), 22.2% from the 3-point line (6 of 27), and 73.3% from the free throw line (11 of 15). The Royals grabbed 38 rebounds to the Lady Bobcats' 49. The Royals had 11 points off turnovers, 14 second-chance points, 24 points in the paint, and 14 bench points; the Lady Bobcats had 20 points off turnovers, 15 second-chance points, 36 points in the paint, and 9 bench points.
Darielle Evans led the Royals in scoring with a game-high 22 points, her seventh game with 20 or more points this season. Evans also grabbed 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Alyssa Strickland and Tschida Johnson each scored 11 points; Strickland also had 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Johnson contributed 5 rebounds. Karen Orozco contributed 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Four of the Lady Bobcats scored in double digits, led by Cass Johnson with 19 points. Kelsie Cleeton had 16 points and 12 rebounds; Lakin Simmerman scored 15 points and Madi Brethower scored 12.
UP NEXT: The Royals will travel to Joplin, Missouri, to play Ozark Christian College on Monday, January 8. They will play Central Christian College of the Bible on Tuesday, January 9, in Moberly, Missouri.
By Loretta Gamboe, SID Staff