Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks men's and women's basketball teams ensured themselves a cheerful Christmas with a pair of American Southwest Conference home victories last week.
By Larry Isch, Director of Public Relations The Eagles defeated Sul Ross State 97-62 on Thursday and downed Howard Payne University 80-78 in overtime on Saturday. The Lady Eagles defeated SRS 84-67 and HPU 84-71. Both U of O teams now head for a three-week holiday break with 4-0 conference records. The Eagles improved to 8-0 overall thanks to some last-second heroics from freshman Daniel Watson, whose offensive rebound putback as time expired in overtime was the difference in the victory over Howard Payne. Michael Young led the Eagles with 18 points, Travis Acord and Brent Gibbs each had 17 and Watson added 13 for the Eagles, who dodged the bullet when Howard Payne failed to get a potential game-winning shot off in the final seconds of regulation. In the blowout victory over Sul Ross State, 13 different U of O players scored, led by Gibbs with 16, Ryan Marshall with 14 and Mandrell Howell with 13. The Eagles forced the visitors into 31 turnovers and won the battle of the boards, 52-34. "We probably played our best game of the year against Sul Ross State, and, as usually happens, we followed that up by struggling against Howard Payne," said Ozarks Coach Johnny Johnson. "But the key is that we found a way to win the game even though we didn’t play well. We’re just happy to be 8-0. It makes for a much nicer Christmas." The Lady Eagles (6-1) continued to get outstanding play from sophomore post Mandy Thomas, who had 25 points and seven rebounds against Howard Payne and 18 points against Sul Ross State. Thomas, a former Lamar High standout, leads Ozarks in both scoring and rebounding. The Lady Eagles, who lead the ASC in scoring with an average of 84 points a game, also got 26 points from Kristy Watts, 23 points from Lacey Johnson and 17 from Christie Shuffield in the two games. Both teams are off until Dec. 30 when they play host to Rhema Bible College.