TONKAWA, Okla. — The Cowley College men’s basketball team wrapped up its nonconference slate Friday and Saturday by splitting a pair of games at the Tonkawa Classic. The Tigers finish nonconference play with a 4-2 record.
As they did earlier this season, the Tigers defeated NOC-Enid 68-57 on Friday and lost to NOC-Tonkawa 73-68 on Saturday.
“We are getting better and starting to make some plays, we just need to do it more consistently,” Cowley coach Donnie Jackson said.
The score was tied 15-15 midway through the first half Friday against Enid, and remained tied at 23 all with five minutes left before halftime.
A 15-foot jumper by Kennedy Willis just before the halftime buzzer gave the Tigers a 29-28 lead.
The lead grew to double digits, 44-34, on a tip-in by freshman Emmanuel Austin. Holding on to a seven-point advantage, 60-53, sophomore Clarence King made an acrobatic three-point play in the lane.
King finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
“Clarence was special. He really put us on his back this weekend,” Jackson said.
Willis added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers, who outrebounded the Jets 48-36.
“I challenged Kennedy to be more consistent and if he can do that it will really open up the floor for us,” Jackson said.
Quentin Harvey led NOC-Enid with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Cowley went into halftime leading 35-29.
The lead grew to 50-36 on a basket by King seven minutes into the second half.
A 10-2 run pulled the Mavericks to within 52-46.
NOC-Tonkawa took its first lead of the second half 57-56 on a basket by David Owusu with 6:50 left to play.
Their lead grew to 71-65 before Cowley’s Mekhi Cameron drilled a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Forced to foul, the Tigers sent Nick Cham to the foul line, where he made both shots.
“Our inexperience started to show the last 12 minutes of that game,” Jackson said. “We have got to fix some of these late game issues that have plagued us in our two losses to Tonkawa. We also need more production from our bench and need to have them impact the game in some way.”
Raishaun Brown led Cowley with 18 points, while King and Willis chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Tigers open conference play with a rematch of last year’s national championship game at 7:30 p.m. today at home against defending national champion Coffeyville. The Red Ravens have also played a difficult nonconference schedule and will enter the game with a 3-3 record.
“What a game this should be,” Jackson said. “We need to move on quickly and get ready for a different kind of intensity that conference play brings. We are excited to be back at home and need to find a way to protect our home court.”