Clarksville, Ark.-The U of O Eagles picked up their eighth win of the season while the Lady Eagles picked up their seventh win over the holiday break.
The Eagles defeated Sul Ross State 81-75 on January 3 and Howard Payne 108-98 on January 5, but lost to Arkansas Tech 82-70 on December 31. The Lady Eagles lost to Sul Ross State 79-66 and defeated Howard Payne 80-73 in overtime. With Sul Ross State and Howard Payne competing in the American Southwest Conference West division, the Eagles (8-4) remain at 1-0 in conference play and the Lady Eagles (7-4) are 0-1. The Eagles traveled to Russelleville to take on long time rival Arkansas Tech University on New Year’s Eve. Tech, an NCAA II school, had a distinct height advantage on the inside, but Ozarks was able to force their two starting post players into foul trouble. Unfortunately for Ozarks, Tech rode the hot hand of Clarksville native Steven Willis throughout the game. Willis, using a variety of shots, tallied 14 first half points to help Tech trail Ozarks by only two points. U of O’s Brent Johnson would lead the Eagles’ charge in the first half scoring nine points. The Eagles could have had a double-digit lead at halftime, but hit only 9 of 21 free throws. Second half action saw Tech slowly pull away behind a 13-4 run at the midway point of the second half. Tech also hit 61 percent of their shots in the second half. Johnson led the Eagles with 14 points. Brent Gibbs and Ricky Johnson each scored 13 points. The Sul Ross State Lady Lobos held a one-point advantage at halftime and outscored the Lady Eagles 46-34 in the second half to secure a 79-66 win. The Lady Eagles shot 25 percent from the field in the second half and just 32 percent in the game. Sophomore forward Jenna Corbell led Ozarks with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Corbell, who was 6-13 from the field, played in only 18 minutes due to foul trouble. Ozarks was also plagued with turnovers, committing 23 in the game. Christie Shuffield and Charity Tyree each scored 11 points for Ozarks. The Eagles outscored the Lobos 48-37 in the second half to gain a 81-75 victory. The Eagles trailed 33-38 at halftime, but were able to go to the free throw line 21 times in the second half, hitting 14. Ozarks ended the game hitting 65 percent of their free throws. Gibbs scored a game high 23 points on 11 of 16 shooting from the field. Gibbs also grabbed a game high 11 rebounds. Mandrell Howell scored 15 points for the Eagles and Ulysses Ruley hit for 12 points. The Lady Eagles overcame a three-point deficit with 30 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and then outscored Howard Payne 16-9 in overtime to seal a 80-73 win. Ozarks’ twin towers played prominent roles in the victory. 6-1 senior center Christie Shuffield had her best game of the season by hitting 11 of 17 field goals to lead Ozarks with 25 points. She also grabbed 14 rebounds and recorded four assists. Shuffield, the second leading shot blocker in the ASC, tallied four blocked shots in the game. 6-1 junior forward Mandy Thomas scored 20 points and had nine rebounds. Thomas completed a fine all-around performance by dishing out four assists, blocking two shots and recording two steals. Kristy Watts had 12 points for the Lady Eagles. The Eagles shot a season high 62 percent from the field to record a 108-98 win against Howard Payne. Ozarks had six players in double figures with Mandrell Howell scoring a career high 30 points. The Eagles held a 54-46 halftime lead thanks to hitting 22 of 31 (71%) of their shots. U of O also hit 13 of 17 (76%) from the free throw line in the game. Howell, a sophomore guard, nailed 13 of his 19 shots from the field and recorded three steals. Brian Henderson scored 17 points and Geoffrey Owens had 14 points. Ricky Johnson and Ruley each scored 12 points while Gibbs had 10 points. Ozarks will face University of Dallas in Clarksville on January 10. The women’s game is set for 5:30 p.m. with the men’s game set for 7:30 p.m.