The College of the Ozarks Basketball Bobcats traveled to Hannibal, Missouri to open their post-Thanksgiving schedule Tuesday and came home with a 66-62 win over Hannibal-Lagrange University.
The rust was evident in the early going as the Bobcats struggled to find the bottom of the net. Matt Luebbert put the Bobcats on the board with a pair of free throws and 17:43 on the clock. Garrett Simmerman followed with a bucket inside, but the Trojans consistent scoring put them up with an early 11-4 lead. Both teams experienced a scoring drought over the next five minutes with HLGU leading 13-7. A Blaine Cline three cut the Bobcat deficit to 13-10 with 13:21 remaining in the opening half, but HLGU answered to maintain their five point advantage. A Cline layup, followed by a Tanner Diaz three cut the gap to two, 17-15, when Cline continued his hot streak and tied the score at 17. A Trojan three by Kaden Eirhart pushed HLGU back on top and a Grant Peters bucket increased the Bobcat deficit to five, 22-17. Cooper Long and Buck Sanders each knocked down a three to cut the Trojan lead to one, 24-23, with 5:08 left in the half. Neither team could ad to their point total over the next three minutes and the defensive battle was on. A Garrett Simmerman bucket at the 2:21 mark gave the Bobcats their first lead. The Trojans continued to struggle offensively, and Tanner Rogers drilled a three to increase the Bobcat lead to 28-24. A Landon Hall basket for HLGU, with :03 on the clock, cut into the lead and sent the Bobcats to the intermission leading 28-26.
The second half was a tug of war as both teams were determined to hang tough. The Trojans gained the upper hand early as the Bobcats come out cold to start the half. Six unanswered Trojan points put them back on top, 32-28 and the Bobcats needed to respond. With 17:32 remaining, Blaine Cline answered the call. Dialing in from long range, Cline’s three followed by a layup, put the Cats back within one. The Trojans answered with a pair of baskets and a couple of free throws to go up 40-33. Kyle Flavin jumped into the Bobcat scoring column with a jumper and a three. Blaine Cline followed with a basket and the Bobcat 7-0 run cut the deficit to one, 41-40. Garrett Simmerman nailed a three with 12:40 remaining in the contest and the Bobcats regained the lead. The Trojans answered but Kyle Flavin responded with a trey to maintain the Bobcat advantage. Cline added to his point total to give the Bobcats their biggest lead, 48-43. HLGU continued to challenge but the Bobcats battled to hold them off. Matt Luebbert scored, and Tanner Diaz followed with a pair of layups and a free throw to build the Bobcat lead to 55-47, with 5:23 left to play. The tug of war continued as the Trojans continued to battle. HLGU chipped away at the lead as time began to wind down. A Blaine Cline layup with :33 remaining put the Bobcats up 64-59. A Trojan three cut the lead to 64-62 and Tanner Rogers was fouled on the inbound. Rogers drained the two free throws and the Bobcats held on for the 66-62 win.
The Bobcats were led by Blaine Cline with 20 points. Cooper Long, Kyle Flavin, and Tanner Diaz chipped in eight each while Garrett Simmerman added seven, Tanner Rogers – five, Matt Luebbert – four, and Josh Linehan and Buck Sanders each tacked on three.
The Bobcats are back in action Thursday as they travel to Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri for a 7 PM tip.