The College of the Ozarks Bobcats hosted Ecclesia College in their final home game of the season Saturday and came up short in a close contest. The Royals came in 12-5 and had some quality wins on their schedule. The Bobcats had come up short in their last two outings and were looking to get back on the winning track.
The game was close early, but the Bobcat offense came to life in the opening minutes. The Royals scored the first four points, but the Bobcats came charging back and led 12-7 at the 14:43 mark. A pair of baskets by Matt Luebbert and a pair of Andrew Mitchell threes boosted the offense. Another Mitchell three made it 15-7 and the Bobcats were off to a solid start. Mitchell, Luebbert, and Josh Linehan scored the next seven Bobcat points and the lead was 22-13 with 11:12 remaining. The Royals were determined to battle back, and they began to chip away at the lead. A pair of free throws at the 8:40 mark cut the lead to 24-20 but Tanner Diaz answered with a basket to stretch it back to a six-point advantage. The teams traded baskets over the next seven minutes until a Terrell Green jumper cut the Bobcat lead to 29-27. Matt Luebbert answered with a basket and the lead was back to 31-27 with 3:34 left to play in the half. The Royals found a spark and went on an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to take their first lead since early in the contest. Josh Linehan scored as time expired in the half and the Bobcats trailed at the intermission 35-33.
Two quick Royals’ baskets to open the second half continued the momentum swing and gave the Royals a 40-33 lead. The Bobcats needed to turn the tide before things went downhill. Mitchell, Linehan and Luebbert teamed up again to hit a trio of threes and a two but the Royals answered the challenge each time. Kyle Flavin hit a bucket at the 12:58 mark to cut the gap to three, 49-46, and Josh Linehan cut it to one with a bucket of his own. Josh Linehan returned the lead to the Bobcats with a pair of free throws and the back and forth battle was on. The teams continued to trade baskets with neither team gaining a sizeable advantage. Ties and lead changes became the norm down the stretch and with 2:26 remaining, Blaine Cline knotted the score at 67 with a free throw. The Bobcats could not take the lead again, however, and the Royals jumped up by four. A Cline jumper with time winding down cut the deficit to two, 71-69, but a pair of Royal free throws iced the game and gave the Royals the 73-69 win.
The Bobcats were led by Andrew Mitchell’s 19 points. Blaine Cline and Kyle Flavin each poured in 12 and Matt Luebbert and Josh Linehan each added 11. Tanner Rogers and Tanner Diaz contributed two each in the cause.
The Bobcats had a quick turn around with Ecclesia as they headed to Springdale to take on the Royals again Tuesday night in a 7:00 tip.