Release Date: 2/8/1999
Clarksville, Ark. --- Both the University of the Ozarks men's and women's basketball teams turned in one of their best performances of the season on Saturday, and the result was a doubleheader sweep of American Southwest Conference East Division leader Mississippi College.
The Lady Eagles outscored MC 15-5 in the overtime period to upset the East Division's No. 1 Lady Choctaws 73-63. The Eagles completed the sweep in a 101-98 double-overtime thriller over the East Division's top-ranked Choctaws.
In the women's game, Carla Rhodes led the Lady Eagles (8-12, 3-4) with 29 points and Christie Shuffield added 15. The Lady Eagles shot 45 percent from the field and won the battle of the boards 38-37 in their first-ever victory over MC (14-5, 5-2).
"We came out and played much more aggressively, especially on defense, and that was the difference," said Ozarks Coach Jack Jones. "We played very hard and aggressive early and we had some success. I think the girls realized that if we kept it up, we could play with them."
The Eagles (11-9, 5-2) led the Choctaws (17-2, 6-1) most of the way before calling on some last-second heroics to upset a team that was ranked No. 15 in the nation by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and No. 3 in the South Region in the NCAA Division III poll.
Ozarks' Donald Williams hit a free throw with three seconds to play to force the first overtime and Daniel Shepherd nailed a long three-pointer as time expired to force the second overtime. In the second OT period, Ricky Johnson hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final :35 to secure the Eagles' first-ever victory over MC.
"We made the plays and hit our free throws down the stretch," said Eagles Coach Johnny Johnson. "This is a big victory for us. it would be equivalent of beating UCA back in the old AIC when they dominated the league."
Ozarks senior center Ben Jones' 21 points led six players who scored in double figures. Shepherd added 20, Johnson 16, Williams 14, Patrick Prater 12 and Brian Henderson 12. The Eagles shot a season-high 56 percent (36-64) from the field, including 10-of-18 (56 percent) on three-point attempts.
The victory over Mississippi College, along with Thursday's 96-87 win over LeTourneau, puts the Eagles back in the thick of the ASC East Division race. Ozarks is tied for second place with Austin College, one game behind MC. The Eagles play their last two home games of the season this week, Thursday against East Texas Baptist and Saturday against Austin College. They end the season with road games at University of Dallas and University of Texas at Dallas.
"Austin College is going to be a big game for us because we're fighting them for one of the two (East Division) conference tournament spots," Johnson said. "We've put ourselves in a position to go to the conference tournament last week, but we have several big games left, including Austin College on Saturday. If we can take care of business at home, we should be in good shape."