Bruins avenge early season loss to Ozarks

Chris Ashanti went for 17 points and seven rebounds to pace BU to their first top 10 win of the year
Chris Ashanti went for 17 points and seven rebounds to pace BU to their first top 10 win of the year

POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. -- Playing their second game in as many nights the Bellevue University men's basketball team exacted some revenge for an earlier loss with an 89-80 win over host College of the Ozarks on Wednesday evening at the McDonald's Cam Jam Classic.

The 21st-ranked Bruins improve to 14-7 with the victory while #9 Ozarks dips to 11-3 with the loss.

The Bruins limited Ozarks' leading scorer Ethan Murray to just seven points in the opening 20 minutes on their way to building a 43-41 halftime lead. Cameron Paschke led the Bobcats with 15 points in the opening period, one of just two Ozarks players to hit on better than 50 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half.

Bellevue shared the ball well in the first half, recording assists on eight of their 16 made field goals. No one player had more than nine points for the Bruins. Chris Ashanti scored nine in the half while Olutola Olushola added seven. Jerred Cook and Eric Quall both chipped in six points.

Bellevue built their halftime lead, despite leading scorer Mike Cardenas playing just three minutes after picking up to early fouls.

The Bruins started the second half strong, scoring a 9-4 run to open the half. Olushola scored a layup on a tough drive to the basket to stretch their lead to 52-45 at the 16:51 mark prompting Ozarks to take a timeout.

Paschke, Ozarks' best performer for much of the night, picked up his fourth foul at the 14 minute mark causing CofO to have to adjust their game plan. Murray, averaging 24.3 points per game on the season, knocked down a trey on the ensuing possession to cut the BU lead to 56-53.

Despite missing Paschke, Ozarks was able to tie the game at 59-59 with 11:08 to play after a layup and a pair of free throws following a technical foul assessed to Bellevue. Less than a minute later, CofO nabbed their first lead of the second half on a three by Murray to go up 62-61.

Murray shot lights out in the second half for Ozarks, scoring 17 of his game-high 24 points in the second period. After Bellevue reclaimed the lead, a trifecta by Murray pulled Ozarks within two at the 7:21 mark but the Bruins came right back and a three by Guzman with 6:17 to play gave the Bruins a seven-point lead.

Paschke re-entered the game at the five minute mark and immediately knocked down a jump shot showing just how much the Bobcats missed his presence.

Joe Young scored on a busted defensive play by Bellevue, drawing a foul on the layup with 1:14 left. He missed the and-one opportunity but Ozarks was within four at 81-77. The Bruins sealed the game in the final minute, hitting on all six of their free throw attempts to secure the victory.

Paschke fouled out at the 2:25 mark but finished the game with 17 points. Canyon Smith and Skyler Frazier joined him and Murray in double figures with 15 and 10 points, respectively.

Ashanti led the Bruin scoring effort with 17 points. He was joined in double figures by Nicolus Guzman (12), Olushola (11), and Carl Robinson. Robinson followed up yesterday's double-double with 12 points and six assists in the game.

Bellevue won the battle of the boards, finishing with a 31-25 edge on the glass. For the game, BU shot 53.6 percent from the field, including shooting 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. Ozarks hit on 48.3 percent of their field goal attempts and 42.9 percent of their tries from three. The rebounding effort for Bellevue was led by Guzman and Ashanti who each pulled down seven boards while Marquis Aaron added six.

Bellevue is back in action on Saturday, Jan. 9 when they host their first-ever North Star Athletic Association home game. The Bruins (14-7 | 3-1 North Star) tip-off against Presentation College (5-6 | 0-1 North Star) at 5 p.m. at the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center.