I really miss going to Harding basketball games. When you’re in attendance, you notice so many things that a recap and box score simply won’t tell you. That’s part of why I appreciate those of you who comment after going to a game. This one had so many subplots that I just wouldn’t be able to discuss without having gone to the game.
On the floor, it’s fairly clear that the game was decided at the free throw line. UAH made 22 of 25, while Harding made just 12 of 25 at the charity stripe. A 68% performance at the line would have been enough for a Bison victory, so in that sense, it’s a difficult loss to accept.
Take a look at the team stats, and I’ll go into it a little further.
Both teams had similar shooting percentages inside the arc, but Harding’s struggles from long range and at the line held the Bisons’ true shooting percentage at a fairly low 50%, while the Chargers maintained a strong 61.9%.
Having seen UAH play now on a number of occasions, I can say that the Bisons’ defensive performance (a subpar 109 rating) wasn’t all bad. The Chargers play a very solid fundamental style, milking the shot clock and passing their way into open looks at the basket. HU was playing without Steven Barnett for the second game in a row, and a first half face injury to Chris Dixon left them severely undermanned on the outside. UAH star Tyler Dunaway took full advantage of this, nailing six threes and scoring 27 total points.
The offensive performance was another story. Post players were struggling all night to get off shots, and it took a career scoring effort from Trent Morgan to keep this a close game. Matt Hall had a second straight off night, scoring 15 and again not leading the team. Several of his misses were poor forced shots where he was clearly trying too hard to carry the team.
Hall and Jacob Thies both picked up three first half fouls, one game after Hall was taken out early in the first half with two fouls at UNA. As undermanned as the Bisons were, Coach Morgan clearly felt it was in the team’s best interest to leave his starters on the floor despite the foul trouble, a decision in which I can find no fault. The unfortunate result was both players picking up a third first-half foul, but it is worth noting that neither player fouled out (though Thies played just 9 minutes).
Jesse Bynum and Brian Howard picked up some slack off the bench, scoring 19 points between them. A second half injury to Kevin Brown left the Bisons without an inside presence as well, so it was nice to see the reserves doing their part. Calvin Rayford struggled to find his shot off the bench, though, making just one of his 7 field goal attempts.
Despite the loss, it was a fun game to watch in person. The trip to UAH is always a nice drive from Chattanooga, and the atmosphere is nice, if only because UAH doesn’t have much of a home crowd to speak of. With some of their student section sitting down even through the player introductions, the Spragins Hall crowd was a far cry from the Rhodes Field House, which I trust is still quite rowdy.