Harding survives rough shooting night to beat Northeastern State

Some wins make you feel good, while others just make you glad you survived.  Last night was one of the latter type of wins for the Bisons, who shot just 5-of-17 from beyond the arc and 6-of-16 from the free throw line against Northeastern State, a member of the D-II Lone Star Conference.

The former NAIA rivals both finished the defensive battle with efficiency ratings under 90 (9/10 of a point per possession), and Northeastern State made just 14 field goals in 45 tries.

With the notable exception of Matt Hall, who again turned the ball over five times, turnovers were not a team-wide problem for either squad.  There were only 23 total turnovers, so the reason for the low scoring output is simply poor shooting (or good defense, whatever you want to call it).

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Yet again, Matt Hall was the leading Bison scorer but not the leader in game score, which was Chris Dixon at 12.9.  Hall’s was just 8.6 despite his 19 points, mostly because of his newfound turnover issues.  Dixon had an efficient shooting night, scoring 12 points on 8 shots while adding 8 rebounds to lead the team in that category.

Northeastern State was abysmal on the glass, pulling down just 13.9% of available balls off the offensive glass, while Harding grabbed 36.1%.  Both teams shot threes with fairly high frequency: HU at 33% and Northeastern at 44%, even though neither team made more than 30% of those shots.

My initial impression would be that the Bisons played solid defense at guard, although I have no real way of knowing that.  Morgan and Barnett certainly didn’t help out offensively, combining to finish 1-of-7 from the field and missing all six attempted free throws.

Freshmen Kevin Brown and Matt Garner continued to see their playing time increase, with both playing fifteen minutes of this game.  Brown scored 4 and had a block while picking up three fouls in his time on the floor, while Garner scored 2 on 2 shots.  Calvin Rayford shot the ball 11 times in 12 minutes of play, making four shots and scoring nine.  He was 1-of-6 from long range.

The Bisons will face host team West Texas A&M tonight at 9PM ET in the Buffalo Classic championship game.  It will be a reunion of sorts for WTAMU alum Jeff Morgan, who also coached there for one season before coming to Harding in 1993.  The Bisons have never beaten WTAMU in three previous tries.

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