Clarksville, Ark.-Mandrell Howell's 28 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists pushed the Eagles (3-2, 0-0) past tradition-rich McMurry University 99-91 on Monday night and avenged a loss to the Indians in last season's American Southwest Conference tournament.
The Eagles held the usually high scoring Indians to 31 points in the first half. Howell, a junior guard from North Little Rock, notched 12 of his season high 28 points in the first half. Howell’s layup at the 14:52 mark of the second half ballooned Ozarks’ lead to 64-43. The Eagles then survived a ferocious comeback by the Indians late in the second half. A jumper by Kelon Lewis pulled the Indians within three points of the Eagles with 4:25 left in the game. Key baskets by freshman guard Josh Joyner late in the game, along with the offensive presence of Howell and Michael Bollman, helped Ozarks regain the momentum. "Not only did Mandrell and Michael give us good offensive output, but they provided a lot of leadership, and a lot of those were key baskets in the second half when we were struggling a little bit," said head coach Matt O’Connor. "They did things that really helped us regain the momentum down the stretch. I would have liked to have seen us put it away in the last ten minutes, but McMurry is too good of a program to just quit. We finished it out and that’s another lesson for our program to learn from." Howell and Bollman combined for 52 points in the contest. Bollman contributed 24 points and nine rebounds. Ricky Johnson had 19 points. Howell also had four steals. The Eagles will play Mary Hardin Baylor on December 5 in Belton, Texas and Concordia University on December 7 in Austin, Texas.