College of the Ozarks men’s basketball used some clutch free throws late to stave-off a Lincoln Christian University (Ill.) comeback on day one of the MLK Classic. The Bobcats defeated the host school, 79-76, and improved their record to 10-8 on the season.
Early in the first half, C of O jumped out on top using an inside-out game anchored by Ayden Stone. Stone scored a team-high 20 points in the game on 10 for 15 shooting. Stone also co-led the team in rebounds with seven.
The inside presence opened-up driving opportunities for perimeter players. Treydon Rackley took full advantage, slicing through the defense on his way to 16 points while grabbing 5 boards along the way.
As a team, the Bobcats shot 18 for 38 (47.4%) from the field in the first half, while holding the Red Lions to 11 for 28 (39.3%). At the break, C of O led 39-28.
In the second half, LCU caught fire from deep, connecting on 7 for 16 (43.8%) from downtown. The surge helped the Red Lions take the lead late, however, the Bobcats kept their cool.
Head Coach Steve Shepherd noted, “This was a great team win. I am proud of the way we kept our composure when they took the lead. We stepped it up defensively, got some big baskets and converted all our free throws late in the game.”
The Bobcats ended the game with a torrid shooting pace. C of O shot 13 for 22 (59.1%) including 3 for 5 (60%) from distance in the second half. However, as mentioned, it was the 11 for 12 from the charity stripe that made the difference late.
Trent McBride and Trey Gibson were both perfect from the free throw line, helping them chip-in eight and four points respectively. Klay Barton had another solid game scoring 10 points, snatching five boards, and hitting three of his four free throws.
Senior Brandt Cochran nailed all four of his free throws late to ice the game. In all, Cochran shot 5 for 12 from the field for a total of 15 points. Cochran also added a team-high four assists.
For the game, LCU shot 31 for 64 (48.4%) from the field, and C of O countered with 31 for 60 (51.7%). Each team battled on the boards, with LCU getting the slight edge 34-33. In the end, it was a Bobcat victory, 79-76.
For more complete stats, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/rffut9h
The Bobcats return to action on day two of the MLK Classic against Holy Family College at 1 PM.