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COLUMBIA — William Woods University freshman guard Natalie Thomas tallied a game-high 21 points in her college debut as the Lady Owls kicked off their season by holding off the Stephens College Stars 60-55 in an AMC triumph Tuesday night.

William Woods University was in front 17-8 after one quarter, but Stephens College — also playing its opener — outscored the Lady Owls 20-15 in the second quarter to trim its deficit to 32-28 at the break.

William Woods then outscored the Stars 17-8 in the third quarter to stretch its lead to 49-36 entering the fourth quarter. The Lady Owls still owned a 13-point advantage with under a minute to play in the contest, before Stephens scored eight unanswered points in the final :38.

Thomas made 8-of-16 shots — including 4-of-6 from 3-point range — to guide three players in double figures for William Woods. Senior guard Tori Nesslage chipped in with 14 points as the Lady Owls shot 45% (23-of-51) as a team, while junior forward Kasey Hazell contributed 11.

Thomas and junior guard Jheda Kennedy both had two rebounds as William Woods was outrebounded 19-10.

India Lucas came off the bench to spark Stephens with 15 points. Ida Pieschl provided 11 points as the Stars shot just 34% (19-of-56) from the field.

The Lady Owls play their home opener against AMC foe Williams Baptist (Ark.) University at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Anderson Arena.

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