Clarksville, Ark.- The U of O men's basketball team held off a second half rally to open the 2010-2011 season with a 70-66 victory over Hendrix College in front of a large and loud crowd Monday night.
Ozarks (1-0) put up a strong defensive effort in the first half, holding Hendrix (0-1) to a 7-of-26 (26%) shooting performance from the field. At one point, the Eagles allowed just two field goals during a ten-minute span, holding the visitors to eight points in the first 13 minutes of action. The Eagles controlled the first half by executing their offense and riding the hot hand of senior guard Andre Williams. Williams, who pumped in a game-high 25 points, hit 2-of-4 from behind the arc and scored 12 points to help Ozarks build a 34-19 first half lead. His three-pointer at the 10:57 mark gave Ozarks a 17-6 lead. Another with 7:45 left increased their advantage to 22-8. The Eagles’ defensive pressure forced 13 first half turnovers and forward Marcus Bobb went 4-for-4 from the floor to help the cause.
In the second half, Ozarks owned a comfortable double-digit lead most of the way, including a 62-47 advantage with 4:42 remaining. However, things quickly changed as Hendrix took control of the game. The Warriors went on a 8-1 run to trim the deficit to 63-55 with 2:34 left. The Warriors kept momentum and got it to 65-59 with about a minute left. A three-pointer by Hendrix guard Alex Baker made it 66-62 with 32 seconds remaining. The Warriors would force a turnover on Ozarks’ next possession and convert a layup to make it 66-64 with 23 ticks on the clock. But Williams came up with four straight clutch free throws down the stretch to stave off the comeback.
Williams added six rebounds and two steals on the night. Bobb finished with 16 points. Kasey Lewis grabbed seven rebounds and had seven points.
Ozarks will head to Birmingham, Alabama, to play in the Birmingham-Southern College Tournament November 19-20. The Eagles will face BSC at 7:00 p.m. on Friday.