No. 4 Bobcats pull away for 73-63 win over Bruins

Jamie Winkler led the Bruins with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
Jamie Winkler led the Bruins with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.

Box Score
Tournament Website

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Fourth-ranked College of the Ozarks scored 25 fourth-quarter points to pull away late, en route to a 73-63 victory over Bellevue University in women's basketball action at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Bruin Classic Saturday afternoon in the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center. 

The loss dropped the Bruins to 11-6 on the season. Ozarks, who defeated BU, 84-73, on Nov. 17, improved to 13-2 overall. 

Jamie Winkler led the Bruins with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots. Elexis Martinez added 13 points, four rebounds, and a pair of blocks. Morgan Cuffe scored 10 points and grabbed two rebounds in just 12 minutes of action. 

Kelsie Cleeton (18) and Aleksei Smith (17) combined for 35 points to pace the Bobcat offense. BU outshot the Bobcats, 44.1 to 39 percent, but Ozarks drilled 12 3-pointers, compared to just four for the Bruins and hit eight more free throws. 

Five different Bobcats hit 3-pointers in the first quarter as Ozarks went 5-of-8 from behind the arc to take an 18-9 lead after the opening 10 minutes of play. The Bruins were just 4-of-16 from the field in the first quarter and 0-of-4 in 3-point attempts. 

The Bruins opened the second quarter on a 10-2 run, capped by a deep 3-pointer from Faith Ross, to cut the deficit to one point at 20-19 with 4:48 left before the break. The two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half as Ozarks took a 31-30 lead at halftime. 

Martinez led BU in the opening half with nine points and two rebounds. Cuffe added six points and Shanae Collins produced five points and six first-half rebounds. Cassidy Johnson paced the Bobcats with eight points and three boards in the opening half as Ozarks shot 50 percent from behind the arc, but was just 32.4 percent from the field. BU shot 35.5 percent in the first half and hit 2-of-12 3 point attempts. 

Neither team could establish control in the third quarter with the largest lead for either squad being three points. Winkler led the Bruins in the third stanza with 10 points as the two teams entered the final quarter deadlocked at 48 apiece. 

A 3-pointer by Ashley Forrest gave the Bobcats their largest lead of the game at seven points (63-56) with 4:19 remaining in the game. The Bruins responded with consecutive buckets by Shayla Dean and Collins to cut the deficit to three points at 65-62 at the 1:16 mark. 

The Bobcats nailed six-straight free throws in the final 35 seconds to seal the 10-point victory.  

The Bruins resume conference action on Friday night, Jan. 4, when they host Dickinson State University beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center.