PHOTOS BY BRIANNA TUREK
VIDEO BY MASON LINDBLOOM AND SARA FISHMAN
The College of the Ozarks, after a 23-9 season record and a seventh-seed placement in the championship, has upset teams throughout the championship. They continued that streak to upset Davenport University, the national title runner-ups, 75-72 in the semifinals.
Davenport pulled ahead early in the game, but the Bobcats were not so easily brushed aside, remaining within four points throughout the first half. The Bobcats tied the game 10-10 with 15:54 left in the half and again (14-14) with 13:27 to go. The Bobcats took the lead from Davenport with 6:24 left on the clock when Kayla Kepler made a field goal, 25-24. Successive free throws from Tanner Merriman stretched that lead to three points.
College of the Ozarks continued to score, bringing their lead to six points over the Panthers, although that lead was cut to two to end the half 38-36 in favor of the College of the Ozarks.
The Bobcats’ Alice Heinzler led both teams at the half with 17 points. Kayleigh VanKeulen led the Panthers with eight of Davenport’s 36 total points.
The Bobcats came out of halftime to put up four points before Davenport managed to score. They held their lead over Davenport until well into the second half until Davenport tied it up 54-54 with 8:44 remaining. Davenport retook the lead with five minutes remaining in the game, 63-58.
The Bobcats remained in the game, defending and stealing the ball to tie up the score and retake the lead 67-66 with two free throws by Heinzler, followed closely by a field goal from Davenport’s Tiesha Stokes to change the lead once again. With a minute remaining in the game, the score sat at 70-70, Davenport putting up another two points only for Heinzler to sink a three-point shot with 3.5 seconds remaining. A last-minute foul by Davenport’s Kia Frazier put Emily Walker at the line for the Bobcats, putting the score at 75-72 with 1.2 seconds on the clock.
Heinzler continued to lead both teams, putting up 27 of the Bobcats’ total 75 points. Alex Law hit a total of VanKeulen and Stokes led the Panthers’ scoring with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Catch up on previous game recaps:
Quarterfinals: Davenport (Mich.) vs. Hastings (Neb.) – Hastings Heads Home as Davenport Advances
Quarterfinals: College of the Ozarks (Mo.) vs. Northwestern (Iowa) – Cinderella Ride Continues for Ozarks, Northwestern Falls
Round 2: Davenport (Mich.) vs. Purdue Calumet (Ind.) – Panthers on the Prowl, Heading to Quarterfinals
Round 2: College of the Ozarks (Mo.) vs. Mayville State (N.D.) – Ozarks Pushes Past Mayville State in Overtime
Round 1: Davenport (Mich.) vs. Ave Maria (Fla.) – No. 1 Davenport Dominates Ave Maria
Round 1: College of the Ozarks (Mo.) vs. Saint Xavier (Ill.) – Ozarks’ Sixth Man Helps Excel Bobcats