PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana College men’s basketball team found itself down 17 with less than ten minutes left in the game, but rallied to take the lead with 2:30 left, but couldn’t get shots to fall late in the Wildcats 72-70 loss to the University of the Ozarks Eagles Thursday night at H.O. West Fieldhouse.
KJ Bilbo had the hot hand early as he hit three threes in the opening minutes of the contest to give LC a 9-4 lead just 2:15 into the contest. But things started to slow down for the Wildcats after that early initial thrust, and Ozarks went to the halftime locker room leading 35-32.
But the final two points of the first half was just the beginning of an extended Ozarks run, which has started with the Eagles leading 33-32 and didn’t end until they led 54-37 with 11:38 remaining in the contest. But, trailing 60-43 with less than 9:30 left, the Wildcats started to claw their way back in the game. A mid-range jumper by Kae’ron Baker got things started. A lay-up by Bilbo cut the deficit to single digits with 6:45 left. And finally, after battling all the way back from down 17, KJ Bilbo’s three-pointer with just more than 2:30 left gave LC the lead at 67-66, capping the 23-7 Wildcats run. After a bucket by the Eagles gave Ozarks the lead back, another Bilbo three put the Wildcats in front again with less than 1:30 remaining.
However, fortune would not allow the Wildcats the win. With just more than a minute left and LC leading 70-68, Ozarks missed a pair of free throws, but the rebound took a rough hop off of the Wildcats giving the Eagles another chance, which they took advantage of by tying the score. After a lay-up by LC bounced out of the cylinder, a fadeaway jumper fell for Ozarks for the game’s final points with six seconds left and LC’s heave at the buzzer was offline.
So. F KJ Bilbo had one of his best shooting nights, hitting five three-pointers on his way to a team-high 17 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocks. Jr. G Kae’ron Baker had a rare off night shooting, but still found a way, including going six of six at the charity stripe to finish with 16 points, four assists, and three rebounds. Sr. G Denzel Austin rounded out the leading scorers with 13 points. LC hit 36.7% of their shots from the field but connected on more than half of their shots from deep, going 14 of 27 from above the arc. LC also did well at the charity stripe, going 12 of 14 from the free throw line.
The Wildcats (12-10, 6-7 ASC) look to keep pace in the race for the ASC East’s final tournament spot on Senior Day against (RV) Texas-Dallas. Tip-off on Saturday against the Comets is set for 3:00 P.M. at H.O. West Fieldhouse.