The Concordia Bulldogs fell to the Lady Bobcats of College of the Ozarks Monday night 74-70 in a thriller that wasn’t decided till the final seconds of the game.
Nothing less than a spot in the national title game versus Northwestern was at stake when these two teams met and it was the Bobcats who came out on fire, jumping to an early 11-2 lead. Morgan Smith began the game with six of those 11 points.
“Whatever my team needs from me I am going to try and do,” said Morgan Smith, junior center for College of the Ozarks. “We put things together and had a lot of different people contribute to help with the win.”
Concordia, off to an unusually slow start, began the game with a dismal 14 percent shooting average, only managing two points in the first five minutes. However, the drought didn’t last long as the Bulldogs went on a five-point run, bringing them back into the game.
A three-pointer at the eight-minute mark by Concordia’s Beth Kohmetscher brought the Bulldogs back within two points. A foul on the next possession set up the tying baskets, but Tracy Peitz was only able to hit one, denying Concordia a well-fought comeback.
At halftime, the two teams were close with a score of 35-34, but Concordia was still hindered by a 36 percent shooting record compared to the 50 percent by the Lady Bobcats. A swapping of three-pointers to end the half gave a boost to the score but not enough of one for the Bulldogs to get the lead.
“We prepared for them for a while,” said Smith. “We knew we had to have composure and we had a goal to keep it under 20 turnovers and we ended up with 18 so that certainly dictated our success.”
The second half finally saw Concordia get their first lead of the game. The Lady Bobcats called a timeout at the 17:39 mark to try and stem the bleeding as the Bulldogs had gotten out to a three-point lead.
“They were just able to take us over but then we had some big plays, got the lead back, and kept it. We also made some very clutch free throws at the end and were a big reason for the win tonight,” Smith said.
Another timeout was called by George Wilson, Lady Bobcats’ head coach, after only two minutes had passed in the game as Concordia’s lead had grown to six on several sloppy turnovers by Ozarks.
The game tied back up at 52 before Ozarks took the lead with a two-point shot with 10 minutes left in the game. The two teams evened out in shooting percentage as the Lady Bobcats dropped from their 50 percent average in the first half down to 46 percent in the second. Concordia improved to a 34 percent mark after they began to take more high-percentage shots under the basket.
The game approached the five-minute mark as the national title loomed in the distance. Both the Bulldogs and Lady Bobcats were locked in a dead heat to see who would get there first. Since the 12-minute mark, neither team saw more than a four-point lead.
In the end, Ozarks came out on top and will have to face Northwestern tomorrow night at 8 p.m. in the national title game at the Tyson Events Center.
“Were hoping it’s our time,” said Smith. “We’ve got ourselves there, now it’s time to capitalize on it and I think coach needs one to hang up and take home.”