BELLEVUE, Neb. -- College of the Ozarks outscored Bellevue University, 43-23, in the second half as the Bobcats stormed back for a 65-58 victory over the Bruins in the MCAC Tournament championship game Tuesday night at the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center.
Ozarks (21-12) earned the league's automatic berth into the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship on March 6-12 in Point Lookout, Mo. Bellevue (23-10), which is ranked No. 19 in the latest national poll, will learn of its post-season fate when the National Tournament selections are made tomorrow, Wednesday (Feb. 27).
If the Bruins earn an at-large berth, it will be their 11th-straight and 14th overall appearance in the National Tournament.
Nathane Simniok (21) and Mike Wiebe (17) combined for 38 points to pace the Bobcat offense.
The Bruins opened up a 10-point lead midway through the opening period and Grant scored 10 points as Bellevue built a 26-14 advantage with five minutes remaining before intermission.
Grant finished the first half with 12 points and three rebounds and the Bruins led by as many as 16 points before taking a 35-22 lead into the locker room. Simniok led the Bobcats in the first period as he matched Grant with 12 points and three boards.
The Bobcats closed the gap to seven points (39-32) after opening the second period on a 10-4 run. A layup by Wiebe capped an 11-2 Ozarks run as the Bobcats took their first lead of the second half at 52-51 with just under six minutes remaining in the game.
The two teams battled back and forth until a free throw by Grant moved BU to within one point at 59-58 with 42 seconds left in the game.
The Bobcats nailed six-straight free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the 65-58 victory.
COFO: Simniok, 21; Wiebe, 17; Sapara, 11; Murray, 8; Leonard, 4; Acord, 2; Frazier, 2.
BU: Grant, 17; Goodwin, 16; Bernardo, 7; Tarver, 7; Robinson, 5; Zamudio, 3; Perry, 2; Pettigrew, 1.