The College of the Ozarks Bobcats picked up their first win of the season in convincing fashion at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma on Saturday.
After a grueling three long road trips in five days to start the season, the Bobcats were able to get in a full week of practice this week. Utilizing the time to reflect on needed improvements, the Bobcats were able to regroup and put together a solid performance on their way to a 69-54 win at Bacone.
C of O wasted no time putting points on the board as Garrett Simmerman opened up the scroring with a three on the first possession of the game. An Ayden Stone two on the next trip down gave the Bobcats an early 5-0 lead. The Warriors answered with an 8-2 run of their own and took the lead 8-7 with 16:33 remaining in the half. The Bobcats and Warriors would trade baskets over the next six minutes with Treydon Rackley, Tanner Diaz, Josh Linehan, and Andrew Mitchell joining in on the scoring. At the 10:08 mark, Matt Leubbert would hit a three to start an 8-0 Bobcat run on the way to a 27-17 lead. Solid defense, rebounding, and consistent shooting would help the Bobcats maintain control through the rest of the half. The Bobcats, shooting 42% from the field and holding a 27-18 rebounding advantage, went into the intermission leading 37-26. Ayden Stone had already posted a double-double with his game high 15 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Bobcat attack.
The Warriors would not go away in the second half and their adjustments to limit Ayden Stone would have to be countered by the rest of the Bobcats. The teams would continue to battle back and forth and the Bobcats could not pull away from the determined Warriors. A Jacoby Durant basket with 15 minutes remaining would cut the lead to seven, 45-38. The Bobcats would answer with baskets by Garrett Simmerman and Matt Luebbert to get the lead back to 11. A Warrior basket would be countered with a Luebbert three on the next possession and the lead was up to 12, 52-40. The warriors would continue to chip away but each time, the Bobcats were able to answer with baskets of their own and defensive stops. With 5:35 remaining, a Treydon Rackley bucket in the paint would give the Bobcats their biggest lead of the game at 61-48. A basket by Garrett Simmerman and an Andrew Mitchell three would increase the Bobcat advantage to 16, 66-50, with 4:03 to play. The Bobcats would only allow four more warrior points over the final four minutes. Another Simmerman basket with 1:29 on the clock would give the Bobcats a 17 point lead, 69-52. The Bobcat defense clamped down and the Warriors were not able to score until a shot by Jacoby Durant found the net with 8 seconds left in the game. The Bobcats were able to hold the ball until the clock ran out, securing their first win of the season, 69-54.
Coach Steve Shepherd stated after the game, “We are happy to get our first win tonight. We played with more confidence tonight and our defense is improving. We passed better, cut better, and our offensive execution got us better shots. We had a full week of practice and it really benefited us tonight. I’m proud of our guys and the performance we had on the road.”
The Bobcats were led by Ayden Stone’s double-double with 19 points and 19 rebounds. Garrett Simmerman contributed a solid 18 points and 8 rebounds, while Matt Luebbert and Andrew Mitchell each added 8, Treydon Rackley scored 7, Josh Linehan added 5, and Tanner Diaz and Tanner Rogers each chipped in 2.
The Bobcats will be back in action on Tuesday, February 16 at Keeter Gymnasium as they host Lincoln Christian University in a 4:00 contest.