Clarksville, Ark.- No. 17 UT-Dallas used a last second tip-in under the basket to secure a 83-82 win over the Eagles in American Southwest Conference play Monday night.
The loss puts a major damper on Ozarks playoff aspirations and stings even more as a result of the controversial ending.
UT-Dallas (18-4) leads the ASC Eastern Divisional pack with a 15-2 conference mark. Mississippi College (12-4), East Texas Baptist (9-7), Texas-Tyler (8-8) and LeTourneau (8-8) follow, with each having four games remaining. Ozarks (8-13, 6-10 ASC) has three games to go, two of which are at home. The Eagles lost a game due to inclement weather earlier in the month.
Ozarks was coming off a narrow win against Louisiana College Saturday after Blake Mitchem hit a long shot as time expired. The tables were turned Monday night just when it appeared Ozarks was headed for the upset. Ozarks led 82-79 with 1:40 remaining in the game when Jerard McGinty hit a jumper. After Chris Barnes hit a pair of free throws to pull the Comets within 82-81, UT-Dallas got possession back on a jump ball. With 5 seconds on the clock, UT-Dallas got off two shots, the second of which would come from Barnes with no time left. After a lengthy discussion, .26 seconds was put back on the clock for Ozarks, but the Eagles were unable to make it count.
Ozarks would trail early in the second half before Andre Williams nailed a trey to tie the contest at 61-61. Williams then hit another three-pointer to give the Eagles a 64-62 advantage. The Comets held the lead for the next four minutes before Williams hit a shot to tie it with 6:14 left. Ozarks would eventually take the lead after McGinty dialed one up from long distance at the 4:28 mark. A pair of Williams free throws put Ozarks ahead 78-73 with 3:23 to go. The Comets answered with three free throws and a field goal to tie it. Mark Perez got the lead back for Ozarks with a clutch shot at the 2:17 mark. UT-Dallas followed with one free throw just seconds later. McGinty drilled a shot to give Ozarks a three-point cushion only to see it slip away.
Mitchem led Ozark with 23 points. Colby Woolverton followed with 18 points. Williams and McGinty scored 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Ozarks will play at UT-Tyler this Saturday and then host LeTourneau and East Texas Baptist to end the regular season.