Looking to avenge an 84-70 November loss in Conway, Arkansas, the College of the Ozarks Bobcats hosted the Mustangs of Central Baptist College Monday night.
The Bobcats opened the scoring with a Kyle Flavin three and Matt Luebbert followed suit to give the Bobcats the early 6-0 lead. The Mustangs wasted little time getting their offense going and a pair of free throws, a jumper, and a three had things evened up. Tanner Rogers drained a deep three to keep the Bobcats on top, but the Mustangs continued to apply pressure. With a Brevin Brimble three at the 14:51 mark, the Mustangs took their first lead of the contest. The teams traded baskets over the next several minutes, but the Mustangs held a slight advantage and began to build momentum. A Mustang three at the 7:25 mark forced a Bobcat timeout, with the score 24-16. Tanner Rogers responded with a three out of the huddle to cut the gap to 24-19 but the Mustangs answered with a pair of free throws and a steal and layup to extend their lead. A traditional three-point play by Kyle Flavin and a long-range trey from Tanner Rogers cut the gap, but the Bobcats still had work to do. With 4:18 left in the half, the Bobcats trailed 33-25 and needed to find an answer to the Mustang offense. CBC continued their attack and began to pull away as the Bobcat offense stalled. A Kyle Flavin drive for a layup and a Garrett Simmerman putback for two ended a 3:00 scoreless streak for the Bobcats, and the gap was cut to 39-29. Two quick Mustang threes and a Kyle Flavin basket ended the scoring in the first half and the Bobcats went to the intermission trailing 45-31.
Needing defensive stops and an ignited offense, the Bobcats looked to get things going in the second half. CBC opened the scoring, but the Bobcat defense was doing the job. Matt Luebbert put the first two Bobcat points on the board at the 18:12 mark and Cainen Mar followed with a three to force a Mustang timeout. Holding the Mustangs scoreless for a three-minute stretch helped cut the gap but the offense was unable to put together the much-needed run. A Kyle Flavin three with 15:26 remaining cut into the Mustang lead. With the Bobcats now trailing 49-39, Coach Shepherd took a timeout to rally his troops. The Bobcat defense forced a Mustang shot clock violation out of the huddle, but the basket remained elusive. Josh Linehan connected on a pair of free throws to cut the gap to single digits and the Bobcats were looking to get back into contention. The CBC offense began to find their groove however, and a series of threes held off the Bobcat challenges. Cainen Mar scored inside and hit a three to keep the Bobcats within striking distance, 58-48 with 10:41 remaining. The Mustangs continued to apply pressure and the deficit soon climbed to 62-48. Another Mustang basket forced a Bobcat timeout with 9:28 remaining and the clock was not looking favorable for C of O. Kyle Flavin broke a 3:17 drought for the Bobcats but the Mustangs answered with a three and the deficit was expanded to 69-50. Flavin responded with another three and if the Bobcats were going to put together a run, it needed to happen soon. A pair of CBC threes quickly returned the momentum to the Mustangs, before a Matt Luebbert slam gave the Bobcats some life. Unfortunately, the CBC attack proved to be too much down the stretch and the Mustangs took the contest 81-60.
Kyle Flavin led the Bobcat offense with 21 points and Matt Luebbert also recorded double figures with 13. Tanner Rogers contributed nine, Cainen Mar eight, Gavin Davis three, and Garrett Simmerman, Josh Linehan, and Devin Carroll each tacked on two.
The Bobcats return to action Tuesday as they travel to Moore, Oklahoma to face the Saints of Randall University. The Bobcats and Lady Cats will then host Iowa Wesleyan at Keeter Gymnasium Saturday for a doubleheader with games at 1:00 and 3:00.