BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Third-ranked College of Ozarks used a balanced scoring attack with five players scoring at least eight points as the Bobcats produced a 65-56 victory over (RV) Bellevue University Sunday afternoon in the Bruins' first game of the Fairfield Inn & Suites Bruin Classic at the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center.
Bellevue fell to 8-6 on the season with the loss. Ozarks, who defeated BU, 69-60, on Nov. 15 in Point Lookout, Mo., improved to 9-3 overall.
The Bruins shot just 32.7 percent in the loss and were just 4-of-17 in 3-point attempts while committing 21 turnovers.
Abby Oliver and Grace Steiger both scored 11 points to pace the Bobcat offense. Annie Noah added 10 points, nine rebounds, and two steals.
The Bobcats closed the first quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 16-10 lead after the opening 10 minutes. The Bruins shot 27.3 percent in the first quarter and were plagued by eight turnovers.
After a pair of free throws by Taeha Pankey drew the Bruins to within five points, Ozarks scored nine of the next 11 points to take a double-digit lead at 28-16 with 4:27 left in the half. BU responded with a 3-pointer by Cassie Jones and a layup by Martinez to pull to within seven at 28-21 at the 3:39 mark. The two teams traded baskets the remainder of the half as the Bobcats took a 31-24 advantage at the break.
Martinez led the Bruins in the first half with nine points and three rebounds. Bellevue connected on just 29.2 percent of its shots in the opening half and was just 2-of-7 from behind the arc, while committing 14 turnovers.
CofO was led by Aleksei Smith's seven points and three rebounds in the first half. Julie Stone, Noah, and Steiger each chipped in six opening-half points as the Bobcats shot 40 percent from the field and were 5-of-12 in 3-point attempts.
After Laura Jurek's 3-pointer to open the second half brought BU to within four points at 31-27, the Bobcats scored nine-consecutive points to open a 13-point lead at 40-27 with 4:51 remaining in the third frame. Ozarks extended the advantage to 15 points before BU closed the quarter on a 7-4 run to draw to within 12 points (48-36) heading into the final quarter.
Ross nailed a 3-pointer to open the final quarter pulling BU to within single digits at 48-39. That was as close as the Bruins could get as CofO used a 13-4 run to take its largest lead of the game at 61-43 with 5:32 remaining in the contest. The Bruins battled back and a 15-foot jumper by Ross drew BU back to within nine points at 63-54 with 41 seconds left in the game.
The two teams traded free throws in the final 35 seconds to make the final, 65-56
The Bruins will conclude the tournament on Monday (Dec. 30) with a 3 p.m. contest against Haskell Indian Nations University.