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Cinderella Ride Continues for Ozarks, Northwestern Falls

College of the Ozarks celebrate from the bench in the final seconds of the game. College of the Ozarks defeated Northwestern 90-69, and will move on to semifinals. Photo by Allyson Pelchat
College of the Ozarks Kayla Kepler celebrates a victory with her teammates. College of the Ozarks defeated Northwestern 90-69, and will move on to semifinals. Photo by Allyson Pelchat
College of the Ozarks Kayla Kepler celebrates a victory with her teammates. College of the Ozarks defeated Northwestern 90-69, and will move on to semifinals. Photo by Allyson Pelchat

BY NIKKI SHERRILL
PHOTOS ALLYSON PELCHAT
VIDEO BY MASON LINDBLOOM

Driven by their crowd thus far in the 2014 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship, No. 7 College of the Ozarks took on NAIA powerhouse Northwestern in the quarterfinals. In the end, the Bobcats were able to pull away from as they rolled to a 90-69 victory and a place in the national semifinals. Led by Emily Walker with 22 points and 7 rebounds, Ozarks pulled away after a late first half run to take the victory.
“I told them if we wanted to win we had to rebound. If you look at the shooting percentage, my kids defended their guts out. We talked about using tempo and waiting to get a good shot and making them guard us for thirty seconds,” said Ozarks head coach Becky Vest.

Ozarks maintained a double digit lead most of the second half, but got into foul trouble early on was Brandy Uchtman received her fourth with over fifteen minutes left in the game. This kept the star player on the bench for most of the half, but Ozarks was able to keep their strong shooting up as they ended with 40 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range. Northwestern was much less, shooting only 31 percent from the field and only connecting on four long range shots. However, the Red Raiders were able to out-rebound the Bobcats 29-23. Allie Engebretson for Northwestern led all scorers with 26 points and 8 rebounds.

In the first half, Northwestern found their game early on leading by ten with their largest lead. Alli Engebretson led the Red Raiders with 13 first half points and 3 rebounds, while Jeana Raper led the Bobcats with her own 14 points and brought down 4 rebounds for her Ozarks squad. After Ozarks fell behind, they would crawl back, getting as close as one point behind the Red Raiders. Ozarks was able to take small lead into halftime 44-34 after better shooting happened in the end of the first half. Ozarks would shoot 45 percent from the field in the first while Northwestern shot 27 percent.

“They made some shots and got to the foul line so the points seemed to be pouring in for them. The ball’s going in for them and on our end, its not going in,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Yaw.

After this victory, College of the Ozarks now advances to the national semifinals, which will be played on Monday at 8 p.m. and will face the winner of the No. 1 Davenport and No. 2 Hastings matchup later tonight. The semifinals will be played at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa and will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.
“I knew even with a 20-point lead I wasn’t comfortable because I know how quickly they can score. After it was under a minute, I just sat back and reflected. I’m just so proud of my kids and how they have hung in there. They really have represented Ozarks well,” said Vest.

With the loss, Northwestern falls to 29-4 overall in their 12th appearance in the national championship.

“Anytime these are the circumstances its tough. We got off to a really good start; basketball is a long game. Our ladies kept competing and playing hard and for one another. I’m really proud of them, it’s a tough pill to swallow now but time will help us look back on some special moments that happened,” said Yaw.

Driven by their crowd thus far in the 2014 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship, No. 7 College of the Ozarks took on NAIA powerhouse Northwestern in the quarterfinals. In the end, the Bobcats were able to pull away from as they rolled to a 90-69 victory and a place in the national semifinals. Led by Emily Walker with 22 points and 7 rebounds, Ozarks pulled away after a late first half run to take the victory.

“I told them if we wanted to win we had to rebound. If you look at the shooting percentage, my kids defended their guts out. We talked about using tempo and waiting to get a good shot and making them guard us for thirty seconds,” said Ozarks head coach Becky Vest.

Ozarks maintained a double digit lead most of the second half, but got into foul trouble early on was Brandy Uchtman received her fourth with over fifteen minutes left in the game. This kept the star player on the bench for most of the half, but Ozarks was able to keep their strong shooting up as they ended with 40 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range. Northwestern was much less, shooting only 31 percent from the field and only connecting on four long range shots. However, the Red Raiders were able to out-rebound the Bobcats 29-23.  Allie Engebretson for Northwestern led all scorers with 26 points and 8 rebounds.

In the first half, Northwestern found their game early on leading by ten with their largest lead. Alli Engebretson led the Red Raiders with 13 first half points and 3 rebounds, while Jeana Raper led the Bobcats with her own 14 points and brought down 4 rebounds for her Ozarks squad. After Ozarks fell behind, they would crawl back, getting as close as one point behind the Red Raiders. Ozarks was able to take small lead into halftime 44-34 after better shooting happened in the end of the first half. Ozarks would shoot 45 percent from the field in the first while Northwestern shot 27 percent.

“They made some shots and got to the foul line so the points seemed to be pouring in for them. The ball’s going in for them and on our end, its not going in,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Yaw.

After this victory, College of the Ozarks now advances to the national semifinals, which will be played on Monday at 8 p.m. and will face the winner of the No. 1 Davenport and No. 2 Hastings matchup later tonight. The semifinals will be played at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa and will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.

“I knew even with a 20-point lead I wasn’t comfortable because I know how quickly they can score. After it was under a minute, I just sat back and reflected. I’m just so proud of my kids and how they have hung in there. They really have represented Ozarks well,” said Vest.

With the loss, Northwestern falls to 29-4 overall in their 12th appearance in the national championship.

“Anytime these are the circumstances its tough. We got off to a really good start; basketball is a long game. Our ladies kept competing and playing hard and for one another. I’m really proud of them, it’s a tough pill to swallow now but time will help us look back on some special moments that happened,” said Yaw.

Catch up on previous game recaps:

Round 2: Northwestern (Iowa) vs. Huntington (Ind.) – Red Raiders Conquer Foresters, Advance to Quarterfinals

Round 2: College of the Ozarks (Mo.) vs. Mayville State (N.D.) – Ozarks Pushes Past Mayville State in Overtime

Round 1: Northwestern (Iowa) vs. Tabor (Kan.) – Last Second Heroics Push Northwestern Past Tabor

Round 1: College of the Ozarks (Mo.) vs. Saint Xavier (Ill.) – Ozarks’ Sixth Man Helps Excel Bobcats

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