WARNER—Poor free throw shooting and the inability to score inside late in the game doomed the 23rd ranked Connors State Cowboys as they fell to visiting Neosho County Panthers 86-77 Wednesday afternoon at Melvin Self Field House.
Cowboys will take on Southern Arkansas Tech at 4 p.m. Saturday at home.
Connors managed just 21-of-41 at the free throw line while the Panthers drilled 11 shots from behind the arc to secure the win.
"If you can't make your free throws that's what will cost you the game," said Cowboys head coach Bill Muse. "You can't shoot 50 percent at the foul line at home and expect to win. And, we just didn't guard well enough to win.
"Our guards were missing the inside shots late in the game, not our big men. We just have to learn from this and move one."
Cowboys' eight-game winning streak came to an end as they fall to 8-1 on the year, while Neosho is now 6-3.
The Cowboys led only one time in the game, 9-2 with 15:44 left in the first half of play. The Panthers took the lead for good at the 13:19 mark and held a 45-39 lead at the half.
Neosho game out in the second half and stretched its lead to 14 points 53-39 and built a 16-point margin before the Connors cut the Panthers' lead to four points 77-73 with 42 seconds remaining.
However, Connors was unable to come any closer.
"I hope this is an eye opener for their sake" said Muse. "We have a lot of tough games ahead with conference play."
NEOSHO COUNTY 86, CONNORS STATE 77
Neosho County 45 41—86
Connors State 39 38--77
Neosho Country (6-2)—Raliford 25, Tolefee 18, Minfong 13, Miller 11, Taliafaro 7, Botom 4, Bittle 4, Fisher 3, Taylor 1.
Connors State (8-1)—Landrum 17, Sidberry 13, Haydon 12, I. Jones 10,
T. Jones 9, Lowe 7, Putnam 3, Tanksley 2.