College of the Ozarks Bobcats battled hard Sunday evening, but they fell short in a double-overtime loss to third-seeded Voorhees College (S.C.), 91-89, to finish second in the A.I.I. Conference Championship tournament.
The Bobcats opened the first half with a quick 4-0 lead, but the Voorhees Tigers responded to tie the game at 9 apiece at the 15:29 mark. The Bobcats countered with a couple quick baskets followed by a Heath Carmichael 3-pointer to take the lead back to seven. With about six minutes remaining in the half, the Tigers went on a 10-0 run to take a three-point advantage with 2:35 to play. Following the exchange of a couple baskets, the Tigers posted another quick 6-0 run to head to the locker room with an eight-point edge, 44-36.
CofO shot 51.6% from the field in the first half but made only 2-12 from beyond the arc. Ethan Davidson led the Bobcats in scoring with 11 points, while Javari Albergottie scored 17 for the Tigers, netting 5 of their six first-half treys.
The Bobcats returned in the second half to see Cochran drain a 3-pointer, followed by a Storm Price basket, pulling the Cats within 3 points. As the two teams battled back and forth, Voorhees extended their lead back to nine points (57-48) with 11:43 remaining in the game. The Bobcats took their turn making a 10-0 run, beginning with two free throws by Cochran, six points by Davidson, and a basket by Treydon Rackley to take a one-point lead at 58-57. The lead exchanged hands for the remaining seven minutes of the game before closing in regulation knotted at 72-72.
The first overtime saw both teams score 10 points, featuring eight points by CofO’s Cochran and six points by Voorhees’ Alex Brooks.
In the second overtime, the Tigers opened with a two-point lead on two free throws, and the Bobcats tied the game for the eighth time that evening in the same manner. Denzel Famble of VC scored two and Cochran responded with a basket “and one” to put the Cats up one. Again, Famble scored two to give the Tigers an advantage, then Davidson hit two free throws with 34 seconds remaining to put the Cats up by one. Voorhees took the ball down the court and missed three shots, but the Cats were unable to capture the rebound. With 1.3 seconds on the clock, Albergottie hit a three-pointer off the feed from Jarett Williams to take a 91-89 lead. The Bobcats were unable to get a final shot off in the remaining time.
Davidson led all scorers with 31 points, adding seven rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Cochran tallied 25 points, hitting three of the Bobcats’ three-pointers. Storm Price completed the double-digit scorers for the Cats with 11. Carmichael and Rackley each scored nine points. Carmichael’s lone three pointer of the game took his season total to 127, tying the All-Time Bobcat Record for Three-Pointers in a Season held by Chris Larsen. Overall, the Bobcats shot 45.6% for the game, going 31-68. Their typically strong three-point shooting failed them, as they managed to net only 7 of 26 (26.9%) for the night. The Tigers held a slight advantage in rebounding at 48-44 and turned the ball over two fewer times than CofO.
Following Sunday evening’s game, three Bobcats were named to the A.I.I. All-Tournament Team: Ethan Davidson (78 points, 26.0 ppg, 7.66 rebounds per game), Brandt Cochran (68 points, 22.67ppg, 6.0 assists per game), and Heath Carmichael (42 points, 14 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game).
The Bobcats’ record now stands at 22-10. Their second-place finish qualifies them to represent the A.I.I. in the 2019 NAIA Division II National Championship tournament, which will be held in Sioux Falls, SD on March 6-12.