Clarksville, Ark.-The Eagles held off a ferocious Howard Payne University rally late in the game to clinch a 79-76 win, their third straight American Southwest Conference victory, Thursday night in Brownwood, Texas.
Ozarks (4-3, 3-0 ASC) held a 63-52 lead with 9:01 remaining in the game, but Howard Payne (0-5, 0-3 ASC) quickly tied it 65-65 four minutes later. Jerard McGinty hit a pair of free throws with 5:30 left to put the Eagles up 67-65, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Jackets did cut it to 77-76 with 44 seconds left on Keith Perry’s free throws. However, Josh Odom found Blake Mitchem for an easy basket with 7 seconds remaining to put Ozarks ahead 79-76. Odom and Mitchem gave Howard Payne trouble all night, as Odom came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points. Odom hit 3-of-6 from the three-point line and made all six of his free throw attempts. Mitchem posted yet another double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Ozarks trailed 25-18 at the 9:29 mark of the first half before cutting it to 29-27 on Odom’s free throws with 5:49 remaining. The Eagles went on a 19-12 run to end the half with a 46-41 advantage. Mitchem paced Ozarks in the first half with 16 points.
Ozarks built a 56-48 lead behind an Odom three-pointer at the 15:15 mark of the second half. The lead went to 63-52 on Woolverton’s layup at the 9:01 mark, but Howard Payne reeled off 13-2 run to tie it. Woolverton scored 14 points in the win and McGinty added 11.
The Eagles benefitted from a 21-of-25 (84%) shooting performance from the free throw line.
Ozarks will face Sul Ross State this Saturday at 3:00 p.m.