Clarksville, Ark.- Mississippi College overcame a 16-point second half deficit to earn a 88-76 win over the Eagles in American Southwest Conference play on Thursday night.
Ozarks (8-14, 5-12) played inspired in the first half, holding a 44-35 halftime lead against the ASC East Division leaders. The Eagles out rebounded the Choctaws 20-12 and rode the shooting of Habeeb Kareem in the first half, as he had 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. After battling back-and-forth for the first seven minutes of the game, Ozarks slowly built a 28-17 lead at the 9:34 mark. Three-pointers by Clint McHenry, Jeremy Clark and Blake Belford started the run. Five minutes later, Ozarks found themselves with a 40-25 lead.
Ozarks went up 51-35 early in the second half, and maintained a double-digit lead for the next three minutes. McHenry scored on a layup to give Ozarks a 55-44 advantage with 14:52 remaining, but that lead quickly dwindled as Mississippi College (17-5, 14-4) went on 14-3 run to tie the contest at 58-58 with 10:32 left. Two possessions later, the Choctaws took the lead for good on a KiKi Christmas jumper. Ozarks got it to 69-66 with a pair of Kareem free throws with 4:57 left, but that would be as close as the Eagles could get the remainder of the game.
Kareem finished with 30 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the floor. He hit all nine of his free throws and added 7 rebounds. McHenry finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Ozarks will host Louisiana College on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. The game has been designated as “Senior Day”, with Chris Clark, Habeeb Kareem and Clint McHenry being recognized prior their game.