Coming off one of their hottest shooting nights in school history and winning five of their last six games, the College of the Ozarks Bobcats traveled to Overland Park, Kansas Tuesday for a rematch with the Falcons of Kansas Christian College. The Bobcats took the earlier meeting 74-69 at Keeter Gymnasium and went to Kansas with plans of a repeat performance. Their 49.1% from the field was not enough to overcome costly turnovers down the stretch, however, and the Falcons reversed the score on the Bobcats to win 75-69.
The contest appeared to be a tug of war from the opening tip as neither team could build a lead. With multiple ties and lead changes in the opening frame, both teams battled to gain an advantage. In contrast to the Bobcats earlier game this week, three-point baskets were much harder to come by. The first half saw Andrew Mitchell drain a pair from long range and Kyle Flavin added one, but the majority of the scoring for both teams came in the paint and off turnovers. With time running down, Josh Linehan scored to put the Bobcats up 33-31 heading to the break. With 11 ties and five lead changes in the first 20 minutes of play, the second half was sure to be a continued battle.
KCC got the early upper hand in the second half with a deep three out of the gate. Another quick two gave the falcons their biggest lead but Josh Linehan answered to cut the gap to one, 36-35. A Tanner Diaz bucket put the Bobcats back on top with 16:19 left to play and the fight to hold off the Falcons was on. The two teams traded jabs over the next eight minutes with the Bobcats holding a slim advantage. A Jouvens Hyacinthe free throw at the 8:19 mark would tie the score at 49 and it was now the Bobcats turn to paly catch up. Five unanswered points put the home team up 54-49 and the Bobcats needed to respond. Free throws by Matt Luebbert and Kyle Flavin combined with a Matt Luebbert three gave the Bobcats a 7-0 run and the lead 56-54. The Falcons tied the score at 56 on the next possession but a Kyle Flavin three answered for the Bobcats. The teams would go back and forth until a free throw by Janvarius Washington knotted the score at 64-64. A string of seven free throws combined with Bobcat turnovers translating into Falcon points would prove to be costly down the stretch. Tanner Diaz connected for two with :13 left to play making the score 73-69. A Quick foul would send Vince Smith to the line for the falcons where he would drain both to seal the win and the final score of 75-69.
The Bobcats were led by Josh Linehan’s 21 points. Andrew Mitchell and Kyle Flavin also reached double figures with 15 and 13 respectively. Matt Luebbert contributed seven, Tanner Diaz, Garrett Simmerman, and Blaine Cline each tacked on four, and Tanner Rogers chipped in one.
The Bobcats will be back in action this weekend as they head to Arkansas to take on Champion Christian College on Friday and Arkansas Baptist University on Saturday.