Good, disciplined teams have a tendency to pick up fewer fouls than their opponents for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s superior athleticism or speed, as in the ability to alter an offensive approach without making contact with the opponent, or simply smart play around the basket, good teams do this.
Harding was a good team on Saturday, and though the margin was not large, the Bisons made more free throws than OBU attempted. Solid all-around defense was the name of the game, and Harding stifled Ouachita enough to notch a convincing 69-58 road win and take sole possession of first place in the GSC West.
The difference in the game was shooting efficiency. Ouachita took most of its shots from beyond the arc, which ended up being a losing strategy. 21 of their 33 three-point attempts were in the second half, as the Tigers showed a remarkable inability to adapt to the Bisons’ solid perimeter defense. They kept throwing up the three-point shots, and the Bisons were happy enough to collect the rebounds from their 25 long-range misses.
On the offensive end, the Bisons were more than happy to go inside when their threes weren’t falling, especially with guards Trent Morgan and Steven Barnett. Both had 17 points, with Morgan’s coming on 10 shots, and Barnett’s on 11. That’s efficient scoring, while team leader Matt Hall had 20 on 16 shots. That’s a fairly typical line for Hall, who draws most of the defense’s attention and makes performances like Morgan’s and Barnett’s possible.
Jacob Thies had 4 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes on the floor, along with two steals and just one turnover, so it wasn’t a bad night for him. I also recall at least one charge that he took, which should be just as good as a steal. Jesse Bynum only played 6 minutes, presumably because of injuries (though I don’t remember if they said that on the radio broadcast). Kevin Brown had a typical 7 point/6 rebound/15 minute performance.
Elsewhere in the GSC
Christian Brothers blasted Henderson State, keeping pace with the rest of the pack at 6-4 in third place with Delta State (who beat UAM) and Arkansas Tech (who beat SAU).
That means Harding (8-2) has a one-game lead over OBU (7-3), and then there are the three 6-4 teams currently tied for the last playoff spot. 5-5 UAM is one game behind, while SAU and HSU are basically out of the running. I’m going to do a little analysis of each team’s chances to reach the GSC tourney, probably for tomorrow.
A visit to Arkansas Tech is on the schedule for Thursday, and then the anticlimactic home “rivalry” game against Henderson State will be Saturday at Noon EST on CSTV.