College of the Ozarks men’s basketball picked up a big victory over the NAIA DII No. 7 ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) Eagles on Monday evening, 85-76.
OKWU entered the contest with a 2-0 record, scoring over 100 points in each game and defeating their opponents by an average of 49 points. The Bobcats entered 0-1, posting a season opening loss to No. 13 ranked Southwestern College.
The two teams opened Monday evening's game fairly well matched, with the Bobcats trailing OKWU by just three points, 13-10, at the 13:31 mark. A couple of Bobcat turnovers and some solid shooting by OKWU followed, and within minutes the Eagles took a 24-12 lead on an 11-2 run midway through the first half. C of O responded by attacking the boards and hitting some shots to post an impressive 17-5 run of their own, which tied the game at 29 with just five minutes remaining. The Cats did not stop there, however. C of O went on to add 11 more points and extend their advantage to 40-29 with 1:42 to play. The two teams exchanged baskets to close out the first half, with the Bobcats leading, 42-31.
For the half, the Bobcats shot 46% from the field, hitting 6-14 three-pointers, while OKWU hit 37.1% of their field goals, going 4-17 from beyond the arc. Bobcat Treydon Rackley (Republic) was the leading scorer in the half with 10 points. Andrew Mitchell (Blue Eye) was close behind with 9 points, hitting three of eight treys, and Trent McBride (Eminence) pulled down 5 boards. C of O tallied 7 first-half turnovers to 9 by OKWU.
The second half opened with the two teams battling fairly evenly. The Eagles’ shooting improved, but the Bobcats did not back down, maintaining a double-digit lead by as many as 16 points with 13 minutes remaining. OKWU slowly chipped away to draw within eight points at the 8:46 mark before the Cats spread the lead back to 15 with 6:13 remaining. The Eagles continued to fight, pulling to within seven points with 35 seconds to play, but the Cats sank a couple free throws to finish the contest with an 85-76 victory.
Four Bobcats scored in double figures, led by Rackley with 21 points. He went 6-11 from the field (2-3 in three-pointers) and 7-8 at the free throw line. Brandt Cochran scored 13, and Klay Barton and Ayden Stone tallied 12 points apiece. Cochran and McBride each hauled in 6 rebounds; Ayden Stone and Mitchell collected five. Mitchell and Rackley both swiped three steals.
For the game, the Bobcats shot 46.9% from the field, while the Eagles posted a field goal percentage of 40.3. The Bobcats turned the ball over 14 times, compared to 19 by OKWU, and C of O held the edge in rebounds 43-40.
The win brings the Bobcats’ early-season record to 1-1.
No immediate rest is in store for the Cats, as they will take on Evangel University on Tuesday evening. The women will face the Evangel Crusaders at 5:30 pm and the men at 7:30 pm in the Rib Crib Highway 65 Showdown. Tuesday’s games will be hosted by C of O in the Keeter Gymnasium.