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No. 4 Ozarks fights past Waldorf

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Aaron Schneider

FOREST CITY – College of the Ozarks fought past the Waldorf College women’s basketball team to earn a 94-72 win during Saturday’s regular-season finale.

“Overall, I felt that we played a pretty good basketball game,” Waldorf coach Katie Schutjer said. “Our first quarter was our weakest. In the first quarter, we played scared and did not execute defensively.”

The Lady Bobcats (25-3) entered the contest ranked No. 4 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II poll. They knocked down 24-of-40 (60 percent) shots from the field to claim a 33-15 lead after the first quarter and held 54-32 halftime advantage. Ozarks finished the day with a 39-of-74 (52.7-percent) shooting effort from the floor.

“We gave them a lot of open shots, which they managed to capitalize on,” Schutjer said.

The Warriors (2-23) shot 15-of-30 (50 percent) from the field during the second half to finish 25-of-60 (41.7 percent) from the floor for the game.

Ameh Ogbemudia paced the Warriors, leading all scorers with a career-high 22 points and ripping down a game-high nine rebounds. The 6-foot freshman center from St. Francis, Minnesota, matched a career-high with four blocks shots. Ogbemudia hit 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) shots from the field and sank 8-of-10 (80 percent) attempts at the free-throw line.

Waldorf freshman Samantha Birkes notched 18 points, converting 6-of-9 (66.7 percent) shots from the floor and 4-of-5 (80 percent) attempts from 3-point range.

Jessica Denholm also scored 18 points for the Warriors with the help of a 7-of-14 (50-percent) shooting clip from the field and a 4-of-9 (44.4-percent) showing from downtown. The 5-foot-7 sophomore guard from Valley City, North Dakota, also dished out five assists.

Waldorf freshman Kassidy Bunger tallied six points, junior Jenna Quina turned in five points and freshman Taylor Fricke contributed three points.

Brandy Uchtman led the Lady Bobcats with 19 points. Uchtman hit 9-of-15 (60 percent) of shots from the floor.

Ozarks’ Lakin Simmerman dropped in 18 points following an 8-of-10 (80 percent) shooting performance from the field.

Cassidy Johnson and Madisen Brethower also scored in double figures for the Lady Bobcats as they provided 11 points and 10 points, respectively.

The Lady Bobcats limited themselves to eight turnovers while pulling ahead to a 20-8 advantage in points off turnovers. Waldorf turned the ball over 13 times, finishing with one more turnover than its season-low.

“We took care of the basketball, which allowed us to get up more shots and we shot well, especially in the second half,” Schutjer said.

The Warriors outshot the Lady Bobcats behind the arc, sinking 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) shots from the perimeter on the day. Ozarks knocked down 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) attempts from 3-point land.

The Lady Bobcats converted 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) shots at the foul line while Waldorf connected on 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) attempts at the charity stripe.

Ozarks attacked the lane to outscore the Warriors 42-28 in the paint.

The Lady Bobcats won the battle on the boards by a 40-32 margin. Ozarks pulled down 15 offensive rebounds to gain a 20-9 advantage in second-chance points.

“Ozarks is a very good team and we knew we were going to have to play well to stay in it,” Schutjer said. “We managed to do that for 75 percent of the game.”

The Warriors open the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Tournament on Wednesday with a quarterfinal matchup against an opponent yet to be determined.