The Wildcats returned home to open the 2018 Wildcat Classic on Friday evening with a conference matchup with College of the Ozarks. The visiting Bobcats captured both wins when the two teams faced each other just a couple weeks ago on C of O's court.
The first few minutes of the game were a fairly back and forth affair with neither side letting the other build much of an advantage. After the opening 10 minutes of play, the Bobcats held the 21-17 advantage but a jumper by King Grant-Perry (Cleveland, Ohio) cut the deficit to two points at 9:45. The two sides continued to battle with the Bobcats holding a small lead for much of the final 10 minutes. a jump shot by Jonny Pomerleau (Loveland, Colo.) tied the game 33-33 with 4:14 left in the first half. The two teams continued to trade buckets with the game heading into the break at a 39-39 stalemate.
The Bobcats started the second with some momentum and led 49-43 at the 14 minute mark. The 'Cats were able to add a couple buckets but the Bobcats maintained their offensive output and kept some distance. After the Bobcats had built a 12 point lead with 8:16 left in regulation, the Wildcats started to make up some ground and claw their way back in. Back to back three pointers by Dakota Patton (Fort Collins, Colo.) brought JWU within four points with 5:14 to play. The 'Cats would back down though and continued to fight in every possession. Bryson Sharpley (Westminster, Colo.) came up big for Johnson & Wales at both ends of the court with some timely blocks and making his presence felt in the paint on the offensive side. A layup by Andrew Romero (Northglenn, Colo.) gave JWU the 70-69 lead but there was still a lot of time left on the clock.
A layup by the Bobcats put them back up 71-70 and a free throw from Romero tied the game at 71-71 and forced overtime. After a free throw by Jontrell Herman (Duck Hill, Miss.) broke up a 73-73 tie, the 'Cats started to pull away some. A quick five points by Romero gave Johnson & Wales the 84-75 lead with 1:08 left in the game. The Bobcats came as close as five points in the final few minutes but the Wildcats were able to hold on and capture the 94-88 overtime victory and begin the weekend with a big conference win.
Romero finished with a game high 36 points for Johnson & Wales and Pomerleau had eight rebounds. Romero also dished out five assists. Ethan Davidson led College of the Ozarks with 27 points and brought down 15 rebounds.
Johnson & Wales will face off against Haskell Indian Nations University on Saturday at 7pm to wrap up the weekend classic.