The College of the Ozarks Bobcats shot 48 percent in the second half and just shy of 87 percent from the free throw line for the game on the way to a 65-57 win over Missouri Baptist on Tuesday evening.
Missouri Baptist (3-7) has struggled this season with defensive lapses and turnovers. This trend continued on Tuesday, which allowed the Bobcats to put together a strong second-half to seal the victory.
The Bobcats put MBU on its heels from the beginning as College of the Ozarks took an 11-5 lead by the 13:56 mark of the first half. Two MBU buckets by Adrian Kuyinu cut the deficit down to two, but the Bobcats continued to bear down on the Spartans and maintained the lead for much of the first half.
The Spartans responded at the end of the half. After three offensive rebounds and two putback misses, senior Garrison Plummer laid the ball in to cut the Bobcat lead to one. On the next possession, LeAndre Johnson drained one of his seven buckets on the night to give MBU its first lead, 21-20. Though College of the Ozarks regained a two-point advantage by the half, Missouri Baptist looked to be on even footing with its opponent.
As the second-half opened, however, the momentum shifted completely toward the home team. College of the Ozarks quickly opened an 11-point, 36-25 lead with 15:12 to go in the game. Missouri Baptist struggled to put a run together the rest of the way. MBU was able to pull within five with just under four minutes to play on consecutive free throws by Kuyinu, but never completely turned the corner as the team dropped its third straight.
For the Bobcats, Nathane Simniok posted a double-double, with 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead all players. College of the Ozarks had four finish in double-digits, including Mike Wiebe (11 points, 4 assists), Ethan Murray (11 points), and Dami Sapara (11 points, 6 rebounds) These four combined for 56 of the team’s 65 points on the night.
College of the Ozarks recorded eight steals in the game as opposed to Missouri Baptist’s five. The biggest difference for the teams, however, was in the turnover category. Missouri Baptist gave the ball up 16 times, nearly double of what College of the Ozarks relinquished.
Senior LeAndre Johnson led Missouri Baptist in the game, posting 16 points for the Spartans. Kuyinu (11 points, 4 rebounds) was the only other player on the MBU side to get into double digits. Garrison Plummer pulled-down 13 rebounds and added seven points while Brandon Duswalt saw extended action in 20 minutes of play. Freshman Kendall Smith also pulled-down five rebound in the game.
The Spartans will try to end their season-long losing skid this weekend as the team will travel to Greenville College for the Greenville Classic. MBU is scheduled to begin play against Milliken University on Friday at 6:00 p.m.