Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks men's basketball team holds sole possession of first place in the American Southwest Conference East division after posting a 76-66 win over Texas Lutheran University on Sunday.
A strong second half shooting performance proved too much for the Bulldogs (4-5, 3-4) as Ozarks (5-3, 5-1) hit 56 percent from the field in the final twenty minutes of action to move the Eagles ahead of Mississippi College and UT-Tyler. Both the Choctaws and Patriots are 4-1 in league play. The first half turned out to be a back-and-forth battle, with Ozarks holding a narrow 38-36 halftime lead behind Habeeb Kareem’s 13 points. The second half, however, belonged to Ozarks. The Eagles never relinquished their lead, but Texas Lutheran did narrow the gap to two points in the second half of four different occasions, including cutting the deficit to 68-66 with 51 seconds remaining. The Eagles hit six free throws in the final 51 seconds to seal the game. The Eagles also clamped down defensively and limited Texas Lutheran to just 12-of-29 (41%) from the floor in the second half. Kareem paced Ozarks with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. Kareem, who has led the team in scoring in six games this season, is averaging 19.0 points per game. Brad Johnson followed with 12 points and collected 8 rebounds. Josh Joyner contributed 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. Nate Walton led Texas Lutheran with 17 points. Ozarks will travel to Sherman, Texas, to face Austin College on December 30.