College of the Ozarks men’s basketball went into the weekend with a 2-1 record. They split the Tabor College Classic and left with a 3-2 record.
Friday’s game was against Tabor College, an undefeated team.
“We knew it was going to be a battle on their home floor,” head coach Steve Shepherd said. “And it was, defensively we were really sharp and played with a lot of energy.”
Senior Brandt Cochran put the Bobcats on the board early with a three-pointer. This gave the team an immediate lead, one they wouldn’t let slip out of their grip for the entirety of the game. By the end of the first half, the Bobcats had put up 45 points and Tabor answered with just 30 of their own.
In the second half, Tabor put up the first two shots closing C of O’s lead to 10 points. It was a pretty even battle in the second, until about 10 minutes in. Tabor managed to fight back to just a one point deficit. The Bobcats still didn’t give up their lead.
A couple of three-pointers from freshman Andrew Mitchell got the Bobcats out of a tough spot.
Cochran popped off with 28 points in Friday’s 84-72 win. Mitchell put up 18 points, freshman Matt Luebert and sophomore Klay Barton each added nine of their own.
“It was a good team effort,” Shepherd said.
Saturday’s game against Bethany College was a different story.
“I would say that we played okay but not well enough to win,” Shepherd said. “In the first half we struggled shooting, in the second half we shot it very well.”
In the first half, the Bobcats only made 10 out of their 31 field goal attempts and three of their 14 three-point attempts. The Bethany College Bluejays made 12 out of their 29 field goal attempts and four of their 15 three-point attempts.
In the second half, the Bobcats made 18 out of their 34 field goal attempts and four of their 12 three-point attempts while the Bluejays made 14 of their 28 field goal attempts and six of their 15 three-point attempts.
“It seemed like we didn’t have the kind of energy that we needed on the back end of back-to-back games,” Shepherd said. “I think that ultimately caught up to us. We weren’t as good defensively and not as sharp mentally.”
Junior Treydon Rackley lead the team Saturday with 25 total points, followed closely by Cochran with 24 points. Freshman Ayden Stone added 12 and Barton added 10. But four players shooting double digits wasn’t enough to put the Bobcats on top, they dropped Saturday’s game 88-82.
Shepherd said he has to give Bethany College credit, as the team was quick and shot it well. They made it to the line more, and made more threes.
He said this past weekend was a good learning opportunity for the entire team.
“Sometimes things don’t come easy on the second day of a double header,” Shepherd said. “But you’ve got to fight through it.”
Shepherd said they’re using this week to get in the weight room, to fix some things offensively and recharge their batteries before playing two more undefeated teams this weekend.