Clarksville, Ark.- The Eagles came up short in their upset bid against No. 14 Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday as the Crusaders pulled out a 76-72 win in American Southwest Conference action.
With Ozarks (5-7, 2-5) holding a narrow 72-71 lead with 1:07 left in the game, Mary Hardin-Baylor (11-1, 8-1) scored five straight points from the free throw line to seal the game. In one of their best performances of the season, Ozarks had the lead for nearly the entire final eight minutes of game. Chris Clark’s three-pointer was his biggest of the game as the Eagles padded their lead to 66-61 with 3:18 remaining in the contest. The Crusaders would answer with a quick 8-2 run to take a 69-68 advantage with 2:00 minutes left. However, a Clark jumper with 1:07 left gave Ozarks a 72-71 lead. But, that would be the final lead for Ozarks as Mary Hardin-Baylor forced the Eagles into a turnover and a tough three-point shot on their final two possessions.
The Crusaders held a narrow 37-34 lead at intermission even though Ozarks had the lead for most the first half. In the second half, the Crusaders managed a 46-39 lead at the 15 minute mark, but Habeeb Kareem converted a three point play and later hit a three-pointer to put Ozarks within 46-45. Chris Williams’ layup with 10:47 left tied the contest at 50-50. Over the next four minutes, Ozarks slowly built a 59-56 lead and appeared to be in control of the game. Kareem, who scored 16 second half points, hit a pair of free throws to make it 62-59 with 4:12 left.
Kareem scored 20 points to lead Ozarks, and Chris Clark added 10 points.
Ozarks will host LeTourneau University on January 17 at 7:30 p.m. The game can be heard on the web at www.kxio-fmradio.com.