College of the Ozarks men’s basketball hosted Lincoln College (Ill.) on Tuesday evening. Despite struggling in the first half offensively, the Bobcats came storming back, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion, 69-68.
Lincoln College started the game with great intensity on the defensive end. The Lynx caused multiple Bobcat turnovers and smothered C of O on nearly every shot attempt, building an early 15-8 lead. C of O would turn the ball over nine times in the first half, including a transition three-pointer midway through the half that pushed the lead to double-figures.
To compound things, College of the Ozarks shot just 8 for 31 (25.8%) from field goal range in the first half including 2 for 14 (14.3%) from distance. Fortunately, Lincoln College did not shoot particularly well either. The Lynx were 15 for 37 (40.5%) in the first half, which was still good enough for a 36-24 halftime lead.
To start the second half, the Bobcats caught fire, starting with the first possession as Klay Barton used a flair screen for a three-pointer from the left wing. With 17 minutes remaining, Barton and Brandt Cochran would take turns making three-pointers on three straight possessions to cut the lead to 42-36. Midway through the half, the Bobcats would turn a steal by Treydon Rackley into a Barton to Cochran give-and-go, to trim the lead to just two points.
After a timeout, the Lynx built their lead back to eight. C of O countered with an 13-0 run, as the Bobcats would get multiple stops, including four Lincoln College turnovers. At the same time, Andrew Mitchell and Brandt Cochran each caught fire. Mitchell would use a pump fake and pull-up jumper to get going, scoring on three of the next four possessions. Then, Cochran would score on back-to-back possessions to give the Bobcats the lead, 62-59. A subsequent out of bounds play for two points would push the C of O lead to its highest, at 64-59, and cause a Lynx timeout.
For the half, the Bobcats would shoot a red hot 17 for 27 (63%) from the field including 8 for 14 (57.1%) from three-point land.
Unfortunately, down the stretch, it would be turnovers that would again bite the Bobcats. Up three points, back-to-back miscues enabled Lincoln to take a late 69-68 lead. The Bobcats would get one more chance with 11 seconds remaining, however, Lincoln College would snuff out the Bobcat chances with a pair of blocks.
For the game, C of O shot 25 for 58 (43.1%) as opposed to Lincoln College’s 26 for 66 (39.4%) from field goal range. The Bobcats outrebounded Lincoln, 38-35. However, C of O lost the turnover battle, 21-15.
College of the Ozarks had three players score in double-figures. Brandt Cochran led all scorers with 24 points. Klay Barton added 17 points and six rebounds. Andrew Mitchell chipped in 13 points and five rebounds.
For more stats, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/rkjsums
With the loss, the Bobcats fall to 15-11 on the season. College of the Ozarks returns to action February 14 at home against Lincoln Christian University. Game time is 7 PM.