A wild finish this afternoon in Arkadelphia went the Bisons’ way, lifting them to 8-4 and a now-two-way tie for second place in the GSC West. Matt Hall’s three-pointer with mere seconds to play gave Harding the 58-55 road victory over rival Henderson State.
|Drake, Dee Dee||31||18.3||67.0||20.3%||6.79||12.86||14.70||52.8%||20.0%||114.3|
Hall had 23 points to lead both teams in scoring in a relatively fast-paced affair for a game between these two schools. Neither team really found their offensive rhythm, with the Bisons’ 86.9 rating edging the Reddies’ 82.5. Both teams are typically much better offensively, but Harding managed to match the Reddies defensively in this game, overcoming HSU’s biggest strength.
Both teams rebounded well on the defensive end (or didn’t rebound well on the offensive end, depending on how you look at it). No Bison was credited with more than five rebounds (though they were credited with seven team rebounds), while Dee Dee Drake did most of the rebounding work for Henderson State, grabbing eleven.
I’m guessing that this was a very physical game, since that’s Henderson’s style, so the refs must have kept their whistles in their pockets for this one. There were only 32 fouls called between the two teams, a relatively low number for a game that is typically very heated.
Turnovers proved to be the very small difference in this one, as the Reddies had very slight edges in both shooting and rebounding, while giving up a bit with their ballhandling carelessness. Turnovers have been a problem for Henderson State all season, so the Bisons were wise to exploit that to their advantage in this game, even if the results were only slightly in their favor.
This win gives the Bisons a guaranteed spot in the conference tournament, which will be in Southaven, MS this year instead of Tupelo. I’m trying to work out arrangements to stay with my grandparents-in-law the weekend of the tournament, if the Bisons make it to the semi-finals. I don’t have any vacation days to use, or I’d take off earlier to see the early-round game(s).
Elsewhere in the GSC
Christian Brothers held off Delta State in the battle to remain tied for second place with HU, backed by 19 from Reggie Peyton. Southern Arkansas and OBU continued to head in opposite directions, as the Muleriders toppled the Tigers across the street from where the Bisons took out the Reddies. Perhaps even bigger news is that Arkansas Tech is no longer winless in the GSC, as they took out the reeling UAM Boll Weevils. There’s no word yet on whether Nate Newell missed any shots in that game, as the box score is nowhere to be found at this hour.
Next week is it for the GSC regular season. The Bisons are in great shape after a solid week, but they’ll have to face a surging SAU team before closing out in a possible battle for second place against Christian Brothers. Ironically, it may be preferable to finish third in the division, given that the #2 team would be paired against East #1 Montevallo in the semifinals of the conference tournament. That’s an interesting story, since Harding has now beaten HSU (the likely West #1), while Montevallo is virtualy the consensus top team in the conference. I don’t think they’ll be throwing any games to finish #3, but for a team that probably needs to reach the finals in order to get a sniff of the NCAA Tourney, it’s not as crazy as it seems.