POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. (LyonScots.com) – Lyon College first-year head coach Chad Tapp has been saying for weeks that his Scots would be able to use Tuesday night's season opener against the College of the Ozarks as a measuring stick to see where his team must go from here. There's no doubt Tapp was pleased with some aspects of the contest as sophomore Riley Jenkins (Norwood, Mo.) dropped in 23 points and grabbed nine boards – both team highs – to lead Lyon in a hard-fought 58-51 setback in Keeter Gymnasium.
Tapp said playing the Bobcats (0-1), who were 23-13 a year ago, early on would either give his team confidence or show them how much harder they need to work in the coming weeks to get ready for American Midwest Conference play. Jenkins, who played for the NCAA Division II National Championship team at Drury University as a freshman, was definitely a positive sight, as he led the Scots by hitting 6-of-12 from the field and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Jenkins will need more scoring support from his teammates as he was the only Lyon player in double-figure scoring. Senior forward Jordan Layrock (Paragould, Ark.) added nine point on 3-of-6 shooting from the field, and was also second on the team in rebounding with eight. He also blocked one shot. Starting senior point guard Stephon Martinez (Bonne Terre, Mo.) dropped in six points, along with junior center Ben Worlow (Mountain Home, Ark.).
College of the Ozarks was led in scoring by Nathane Simniok, who hit 6-of-8 from the field and a red-hot 11-of-15 from the line to tie for high-scoring honors with 23 points. He also chipped in seven boards. Simniok was the only Bobcat to score in double-figures.
The Scots (0-1) had trouble in the turnover department, committing 22. Lyon kept up the defense pressure, forcing 19 C of O turnovers.
The Bobcats won the rebounding battle, 32-25.
The contest was almost a dead heat for the first 20 minutes as the Scots hit 52.6% (10-of-19) from the field and only trailed 31-29 at the break.
C of O quickly opened up a 7-0 lead in the first 1:44 of the opening half, but the Scots continued to whittle at the advantage and cut it to one, 12-11, with 13:17 left.
The Bobcats stretch their lead back to nine, 20-11, with 9:20 left in the period and held their largest lead, 27-16, with 5:32 on the clock.
But a three-pointer by Jenkins, a pair of free throws by the sophomore, field goals by junior guard Rickey Thomas (Little Rock, Ark.), freshman Brock Widders (Alma, Ark.), Worlow and two free throws by Jenkins trimmed the C of O advantage to 31-29 at intermission.
After holding the Bobcats to 46.2% (12-of-26) shooting from the field in the first half, both teams cooled to 33.3% shooting from the field in the final half and the score remained close.
Lyon College took its first lead, 35-34, with 16:11 left in the contest when Jenkins hit a field goal in the paint. Neither team led by more than two until the 7:46 mark when the Scots opened up their largest lead, 40-37.
Neither team opened up a lead more than that until C of O created a five-point lead, 48-43, with 4:56 remaining and then widened the gap to 53-45 with 3:33 on the clock.
The Scots pulled to within 53-49 on a bucket by Martinez with 2:47 left, but a three-pointer by the Bobcats' Derek Daniels (8 points) gave College of the Ozarks a seven-point lead and the ‘Cats were able to hang on.
Lyon College, which plays only one home game in November, will return to action next Tuesday when the Scots travel to Blue Mountain College for a 7 p.m. contest.