Lady Reddies 73, Lady Bisons 72
I’ve been thinking about how to summarize this one for a day or so now, and I think the best way to start is by giving the Lady Bisons their due. They played their hearts out last night and lost to an excellent Lady Reddies team (only two losses coming in to the game) at the buzzer. It was their most competitive game in a series of tough conference losses to open the season, and they really deserved to win. I felt for them, mainly because they’ve been playing harder than the guys, yet they don’t get as much fan support.
Henderson State 68, Harding 55
Now, as a starting point for the guys, I would like to emphasize that the Bisons did not deserve to win last night’s game. The rebounding effort was as poor as ever, and the team couldn’t seem to get off a decent shot. That said, the officiating was a large factor in the game. If the referees let the Reddies play dirty on any given night in the GSC, they are probably going to win. That was the case last night, as HSU took home their fifth straight win. Among the officiating gaffes: not calling hand-checks and other on-the-ball fouls both ways for a while, not calling fouls under the basket (for either team, but this benefitted HSU more), calling a ridiculous flagrant foul, not calling any of the 3 or more goaltending violations by HSU. It was a frustrating game from that perspective, but there’s no point focusing on that any more. Let’s look at the keys:
|-8.5||Predicted net efficiency|
|-11.4||Actual net efficiency|
Like I said, this was a very poor rebounding effort from the Bisons, and it’s really starting to get on my nerves. I hope they’re working on it in practice, because I know this team has some rebounding talent. Part of the problem, I’m sure, is poor offensive shot selection, which doesn’t allow for many offensive boards. But there’s also a problem with not boxing out for defensive rebounds. This game was perhaps the worst from this standpoint, as the Reddies grabbed over half of their misses for another offensive possession. That type of thing adds up, and in this case, it completely negated the Bisons’ usual edge in turnovers. Ultimately, you can blame it on the shooting as well. 36% from the field just won’t cut it against many opponents. If you want, you can blame that aspect of the game on the officials to some degree, but teams have to adapt to the way the game’s being called, even if it favors the opponent.
Usually I only mention players as good performers if their game scores were 10 or higher, but that’s not always the best way to do it. Some games are very slow-paced, and that just doesn’t work. This wasn’t the slowest of games (both teams just shot poorly), but only two players meet that criteria, and both were Reddies. Kelvin Brown’s 18 points and 9 rebounds paced HSU (GS of 13.6), and Dedric Spooner was also solid inside with 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks (GS of 11.4). On the flipside, Donte Norton had one of the GSC’s worst single games this year, shooting 0-for-7 from the field with 5 turnovers and 4 personal fouls. He did have 2 assists and a steal, which probably saved his game score from being under -10 (it was -9.1).
For the Bisons, Lonnie Smith’s 8.1 GS led the way, although he did it by shooting 5-of-14 from the field. Steven Barnett was the only other solid performer statistically (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, only 1 turnover, 2 steals), but Jacob Thies deserves a mention for keeping his head in the game. It’s too bad that “charges taken” don’t count on the stat sheet as steals, because he takes one about every game, and they always seem to be at pivotal times. If only the rest of the team had their collective heads in the game like he always does.
Alassane Savadogo was solid, but his 3 turnovers and 4 fouls hurt his stat line. It doesn’t show up any differently in the box score, but he didn’t deserve to have a flagrant foul called on him for taking down an inside shooter after being fooled on a pump fake. By the way, how do you reason with that, if you’re an official? (“Clearly he was looking for an opportunity to jump on someone after a pump fake?”) I’m not following that. I thought it was funny when Coach Morgan signaled for the flagrant on a similarly run-of-the-mill later HSU foul.
Technicals were another issue for the Bisons. One was called on the bench (presumably and understandably on Coach Morgan, but I don’t recall), and another was correctly called on Spree after he elbowed an HSU player after a particularly tough basket. Plays like that are inexcusable and warrant immediate benching, even for a productive player like Ceso. I believe that was his third personal in the first half, anyway.
I could probably go on, but suffice to say that this was a difficult game for Bison fans. When your team is frustrated and isn’t playing smart or playing well, it can be tough to root for them. Let’s hope things turn around in the second half. I figure that the team needs to go 6-2 in the final 8 conference games to lock in on a playoff spot. It won’t be easy, but I think if they play all 8 games like they played in their better moments over the first half of the season (read: like they should have been playing), they can pull it off.
Delta State 84, Arkansas Tech 59
Montevallo may be in for a shock when the conference tournament rolls around. I can actually see the Statesmen finishing the conference season 16-0, at least the way their last few “games” have gone, and they look every bit as good, if not better than the GSC East-leading Falcons. Jasper Johnson is a man among boys in the GSC West, and he added his usual 23 and 9 in this game. Jeremy Richardson had 21 of his own (but 5 turnovers), and Victor Brown had 18 and 9. The Wonder Boys got some production inside, but it wasn’t enough in this one. Steve Rives has a VERY dangerous team. The GSC is a middling D-II conference, but there’s nothing average about his Statesmen. These guys have Elite 8 potential and more.
Arkansas-Monticello 66, Ouachita Baptist 60
It’s been a rough year for the Tigers, who only have two or three players really capable of hanging with the five starters of UAM. Nate Newell and Billy McDaniel helped offset an up-and-down night from efficiency-leading PG J.B. Williams (18 points, 10 boards, 7 turnovers). Their 28 points and solid outside shooting (5-of-9 from beyond the arc) were enough to give the Weevils a 6-point win and move them into a tie for second place with UCA and HSU.
Christian Brothers 81, Southern Arkansas 72 (OT)
Sam Bradley had 8 overtime points for the Buccaneers in this win, which helped CBU reach .500 after I predicted them to finish eighth in the division. The emergence of Bradley and freshman post Nick Kohs has helped turn Christian Brothers into more than an afterthought in the GSC West. If the playoffs began tomorrow, they would be the #5 seed from the division. Between Bradley, Kohs, and established star Kevin Weybright, they had 59 of CBU’s 81 points and 36 of their 44 rebounds, spread fairly evenly. SAU had a great game from Kenny Langhorne (25 points) and 10+ scoring games from Cory Green and Lonnie Jackson.
GSC West Standings
This is becoming increasingly important as the season progresses, so I’ll try to post it after every night’s games.