Clarksville, Ark.-Blake Mitchem hit a long-range jumper as time expired to send the Eagles to a thrilling 65-63 win over Louisiana College in Saturday's American Southwest Conference contest in Pineville, La.
Mitchem’s heroics gave Ozarks (8-12, 6-9 ASC) a much-needed win and broke their six-game losing streak. Mitchem has been among the most productive players in the ASC this season and Saturday was no different as he nailed the game-winner with a foot on the three-point line. The 6-foot-6 sophomore finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, his 13 double-double of the year.
“This win was real big for our kids,” said head coach Doug Boxell. “Mentally, we needed this. We played really well in the first half but the second half was ugly. Jerard hit a big three in the second half and then Blake followed with the game-winner. The kids were sick of losing and they found a way to win.”
The Wildcats (8-12, 6-9 ASC) didn’t have an answer for Mitchem or Jerard McGinty as both put on dominating performances in the first half to help the Eagles hold a 36-24 halftime lead. Mitchem scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the first half, while McGinty hit three three-pointers and scored 13 points. McGinty’s second shot from long range put Ozarks ahead 30-20 with 2:37 remaining in the half. His third of the game came with three seconds left and pushed their advantage to 12 points.
Mitchem was the first to score in the second half, and his basket gave Ozarks a 38-24 lead early on. Louisiana College then turned things around and trimmed it to 41-35 at the 15:03 mark. The Wildcats eventually took a 49-48 lead with 9:05 left, but Colby Woolverton drilled a three-pointer to put Ozarks back on top. The remaining eight minutes of the game went back-and-forth, with Ozarks going ahead 60-56 on Andre Williams’ shot with 2:50 left. The Wildcats tied the game with 52 seconds to go, but McGinty hit a big three-pointer to give Ozarks a 63-60 lead with 25 seconds left. Just when it seemed Ozarks had the momentum, Louisiana College hit a three of their own with 11 seconds left to tie it. But in the end it was Mitchem’s clutch shot that put Ozarks back into the playoff race.
McGinty finished with 16 points.
Ozarks returns to action next week when it faces UT-Dallas and UT-Tyler on the road.