Coming off a tough loss to Hannibal-LaGrange during the Homecoming weekend, the College of the Ozarks Bobcats were set to welcome the Missouri Baptist University Spartans to Keeter Gymnasium Tuesday evening.
The Spartans opened the scoring with a three on their first possession but a Terry Gupton drive and layup put the Bobcats on the board. The Spartans continued to attack and a Seth Soden three cut the lead to 7-5 at the 17:00 mark. The Spartans answered and the battle was on. A 10-0 Spartan run put the Bobcats in an early 17-5 hole and Coach Shepherd took a timeout to regroup. The Bobcat offensive struggles continued out of the huddle, but the defense stepped up and neither team was able to add points to their total. An Andrew Mitchell three with 12:15 remaining broke the drought for the Bobcats, and another Mitchell bucket kept the offense going. Trailing 24-10, Xavier Oduor connected on a pair of free throws and the Bobcat offense was coming to life. The teams began trading baskets and the Bobcat defense needed stops. Kyle Flavin stepped into the scoring column at the 9:40 mark and the Bobcats were back within 10, 26-16. Terry Gupton found Kyle Flavin in the corner for a three and the next trip a Gupton pass to Flavin connected for a layup. The gap was cut to five, 26-21 and the Bobcats were back in contention. The Spartans took a timeout to break the momentum, but another Bobcat stop led to a Kyle Flavin three. Cainen Mar followed with a basket and the score was knotted at 26. The teams traded baskets and with 6:02 remaining, a Devon Carroll three gave the Bobcats their first lead of the game. The Spartans quickly answered to regain the lead, but the battle had been reinstated and the tension grew. MBU scored on their next two possessions to go ahead 35-31, but Terry Gupton accepted the challenge and scored the next three points for the Bobcats. With 3:07 remaining in the half, a Devon Carroll jumper put the Cats back on top 36-35 and in need of a stop to hold the lead. MBU responded with a three and a basket on their next possession gave the Spartans a four-point advantage. Matt Luebbert picked up a rebound and a putback to get in the scoring column and with under a minute to play, the Bobcats trailed 40-38. The Spartans hit a three and a layup to close out the half and the score was 45-38 heading into the break.
The Spartans picked up where they left off in the opening half and scored the first points of the second. The Bobcats needed to recapture the momentum and a Terry Gupton basket at the 18:40 mark was hoped to be the start. Gupton drained a pair of free throws at the 17:10 mark to cut the gap to 49-42, but the Spartans continued to answer the Bobcat challenges. Four unanswered Spartan points pushed the gap back to double digits and the Bobcats needed to score. With the momentum clearly on the side of the Spartans, their 12-4 run to start the half had the Bobcats backed into a corner. With 14:08 left in the game, Andrew Mitchell connected from long range to get the Bobcats back in the scoring column. The Spartans continued to apply pressure and the Bobcats were unable to cut into the lead. Another Spartan run forced a Bobcat timeout and the deficit had grown to 62-45 with 11:56 remaining. The 23-7 Spartan run was slowed at the 10:12 mark by a Xavier Oduor three and a Kyle Flavin basket on the Bobcats next possession. The Bobcat defense stepped up, but the shots were still not falling. A Terry Gupton free throw with 7:47 remaining cut the gap to 68-51 and the Bobcats needed a run of their own. Tanner Rogers drained a three to cut the deficit to 71-54 at the 5:58 mark and the clock was quickly becoming a factor. Seth Soden connected from deep with 4:36 remaining and if the Bobcats were going to go on a run, now was the time. Another Soden three at the 3:20 mark cut the gap to 73-62 and the Bobcats were looking to make a move. Unfortunately, the only offense the Cats could muster down the stretch was a Terry Gupton free throw. The offense could not get rolling as the seconds ticked away and despite the Bobcat effort, the Spartans took the contest 78-64.
Terry Gupton led the Bobcat scoring attack with 13 points to go with his eight rebounds. Kyle Falvin added 12 points, Seth Soden chipped in nine, Andrew Mitchell eight, and Devin Carroll tacked on six. Tanner Rogers and Xavier Oduor contributed five each and Cainen Mar and Matt Luebbert added four and two respectively.
The Bobcats head to Lawrence KS, this weekend to compete in the Haskell Indian Nations University, Ernie Stevens Classic. The Bobcats will play at 5:30 PM Thursday, 7 PM Friday, and 4:00 Saturday. They will return home Tuesday, November 15 to host Randall University at 7 PM.