The College of the Ozarks Bobcats bid to avenge an earlier loss to the Missouri Baptist Spartans fell short at home Tuesday night. The Spartans experienced club proved to be too much for the young Bobcats, and they took the contest 84-58.
The Spartans took the early lead with a River Reed basket on their first possession of the game. Tanner Diaz answered with a three and the Bobcats were on top 3-2. The Bobcat lead was short lived as the Spartans answered wit ha Brendon Hardy three. A Josh Linehan basket tied it 5-5 before the Spartans took over. A 7-0 run put the Spartans up 12-5 with 15:41 remaining in the half and the Bobcats began playing catch up. Blaine Cline hit a jumper, a free throw, then another basket but a pair of Daishaun Woods baskets kept the Spartans out in front, 16-10. The Bobcats continued to challenge but MBU always seemed to answer. Trailing 18-12 at the 11:29 mark, Andrew Mitchell was fouled on a three-point attempt and drained all three free throws to pull the Bobcats to within three, 18-15. Neither team would score over the next couple of minutes and the Bobcat offense went cold. MBU went on another 6-0 run before a Matt Luebbert traditional three-point play broke the ice. Continuing to battle, Tanner Rogers scored, and Kyle Flavin connected from long range to cut the deficit to one, 24-23. The Spartans turned up the defensive intensity and another Bobcat cold streak ensued. Another 6-0 Spartan run put the Bobcats down seven with 4:45 left in the opening frame. The two teams traded jabs as the half was winding down, with the Bobcats continuing to chip away at the lead. Blaine Cline hit three of four free throws on back to back possessions and the gap was once again cut to two, 32-30 with 2:030 left to play. Defense took over for both teams on the next several possessions as the Bobcats strived to even the score or take the lead. A Spartan basket by Daishaun Woods was answered by a Kyle Flavin bucket keep the Bobcats within two. As time ticked off the clock, an RJ Pair three found the bottom of the net and the Bobcats went into the intermission trailing 37-32.
The back and forth action continued as play resumed in the second half. John Yaeger opened the scoring for the Spartans and Kyle Flavin responded for the Bobcats. A Brendon Hardy three built the Spartan lead to eight, 42-34 and the Bobcats needed to answer. A Spartan free throw increased the deficit to nine and it looked like things might get out of hand for the Bobcats. With 16:01 remaining, a Blaine Cline steal led to a pass to Kyle Flavin. Flavin found Tanner Rogers open beyond the arc and his three cut the gap down to six. As quickly as the Bobcat momentum arrived, Brendon Hardy gave it right back to the Spartans with a three of his own. The Bobcats were unable to score the next several trips down the floor, so they had to rely on their defense. The defense held their own until the 13:41 mark when Hardy connected on another three and the Bobcats trailed by 12, 49-37. A pair of John Yaeger free throws increased the Spartan lead and the Bobcats could feel the game slipping from their grasp. An Andrew Michell three provided a spark but Brendon Hardy developed the hot hand and scored the next seven Spartan points. The Bobcats now trailed 58-39. Andrew Mitchell hit three and two free throws but back to back threes by Billy Francis kept the pressure on the Bobcats. The Bobcats could only keep pace as the defense was unable to get consecutive stops. Garrett Simmerman scored, and Andrew Mitchell added to his point total hitting another three followed by a two. Another cold streak for the Bobcats in the final 3:46 sealed their fate and the Spartans took the contest 84-58.
The Bobcat battled throughout the contest, but the experience of the Spartans was too much to overcome.
The Bobcats were led by Andrew Mitchell’s 15 points. Kyle Flavin added nine, Blaine Cline – eight, Tanner Rogers – seven, and Josh Linehan chipped in six. Tanner Diaz and Garrett Simmerman each continued five points to the cause and Matt Luebbert tacked on three.
The Bobcats are now off until after the New Year when they will host Central Christian of the Bible on January 3 in a 7 PM contest.