Clarksville, Ark.-Senior forwards Chris Williams and Tony Daniels scored a combined 46 points to help Ozarks win their second straight American Southwest Conference game as the Eagles took a 86-78 victory over Texas Lutheran University Saturday.
For the second consecutive game, Ozarks (7-6, 5-3) trailed at the half and needed to make a second half surge to pull out the win. The Bulldogs (2-9, 2-6) used a 16-of-19 performance from the free throw line to help the first half cause. They also shot nearly 62 percent from the floor. It was Ozarks however that appeared to be at the top of their game early, running out to a 16-3 lead in the first six minutes of action. The Eagles continued to lead the game for the next seven minutes before the Bulldogs finished strong.
It was Williams and Daniels though that proved to be too much for Texas Lutheran. The duo combined for 28 rebounds, including 20 in the second half, and 34 second half points. Trailing 55-45 at the 15-minute mark, the duo scored five points over the next three minutes to cut it to 57-53. Back-to-back three-pointers by Williams gave Ozarks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Bulldogs wouldn’t go down easy, trimming the Eagles’ lead to two points on a couple of occasions late in the game. A Daniels layup and a Jeremy Clark three gave Ozarks a 79-70 advantage with under three minutes to play.
Daniels finished 6-of-7 from the floor while Williams ended 7-of-12 in the field. Andre Williams added 10 points and Tony Brock handed out 9 assists.
At the midway point of the season, Head Coach Matt O’Connor has been pleased with the way his team has played defensive and with the way they share the ball.
“I am happy with where we are defensively, especially with our starting group,” said O’Connor. “I like the way we share the ball, too. I think that we are making the extra pass. We’ve created some nice opportunities in transition, but we’ve really done well when we have made the extra pass to create a better look or drawn a foul. I have been pleased the last three or four games with our free throw shooting. I think that is key for us. We have to make those free throws count.”
Ozarks will host LeTourneau University this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and East Texas Baptist University this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. The game can be heard locally on KXIO 106.9 and on the web at www.kxio.nu.
“We always take it as a good opportunity to play at home,” said O’Connor, whose team is 6-0 at home this season. “It is very valuable to play at home. Our seniors are playing with a lot of confidence. We have several players who are putting it all together this year.”
“The rest of the way will be a real battle,” said O’Connor. “The East Division is solid. We have some strong rivalries within our division. LeTourneau will be a tough matchup for us Thursday night. They don’t beat themselves, and they are talented and well-coached. Their only conference loss was by two points. East Texas Baptist is a scary team. Their big guys are athletic and can block shots and are active on the boards. They have played really well in games against West opponents.”
O’Connor does see room for improvement from his bench.
“We have to develop consistent play from our bench,” said O’Connor. “We have leaned on them for a lot of minutes. Our bench is capable, but they are young. They need to continue to develop for us.”
-Head coach Matt O’Connor notched his 88th career win at Ozarks. O’Connor ranks second all-time at the school, behind Johnny Johnson who won 173 games.
-The Eagles remain undefeated at home (6-0) this season.
-For the fourth the straight game, Tony Brock has led the team in assists. Brock has been the team leader in that category in all but two games.
-Both Chris Williams and Tony Daniels had their second straight double-doubles.