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Friday had little drama at the GSC Tournament, except for one game, and there were no upsets. Let’s get into the recaps, starting with Harding’s game.
#1W Harding 73, #5W Arkansas Tech 51
After the first 15 minutes, you would never have been able to tell that the Wonder Boys had beaten the Bisons twice already this year. Harding closed the first half on an 8-0 run and never looked back, cruising past Tech into the semifinals.
Either the Bisons played outstanding defense, or Tech just couldn’t get their shots to fall. It doesn’t really matter what the reason was, only that Harding held ATU to an anemic 68.0 offensive rating. Tech did well rebounding the ball, but the Bisons forced too many turnovers and held them to 27% shooting from the field.
Matt Hall had 22 points, with over half of them coming from the free-throw line. Kevin Brown and Trent Morgan did the rest of the scoring work, with 17 and 15, respectively. Chris Dixon was the team’s leading rebounder with 9, and he was the only Bison other than the aforementioned scorers who finished with a game score greater than 3.
Steven Barnett shot 2-of-8 from the field and turned the ball over five times, so he’ll have to step it up on offense today. Jesse Bynum played only 6 minutes, leaving either Jacob Thies in the game or a small lineup on the floor for most of the game. Several players, including Thies, Hall, and Dixon battled foul trouble and didn’t play as many minutes as they might have otherwise. Perhaps that will keep them rested during this game-a-day tournament schedule.
#2E Valdosta State 81, #3W Ouachita Baptist 79 (OT)
This was the day’s only thriller, and it worked out for the Bisons that they’re playing the winner of a game that went five extra minutes: Valdosta State. The Bisons beat the Blazers in last year’s quarterfinals before losing in the semis to Henderson State.
As for this game, the Tigers were leading most of the way, but VSU came back, requiring a 3 from OBU’s Jaranimo Marks to tie the game at the end of regulation. Marks had 20 to lead the Tigers in scoring, while Stephan Walton led the Blazers with 21. All five VSU starters took at least 11 shots, so it’s hard to key in on something to learn from this game.
#1E North Alabama 87, Arkansas-Monticello 69
North Alabama kept pressing on, roaring past UAM in the day’s third game. The Weevils played without Duke Sturdivant, who has been one of their key offensive players, but UNA did not let up. D’Angelo Dean had 24 in the losing effort, while the Lions placed six players in double figures, led by Quinn Beckwith’s 18.
#2W Christian Brothers 76, #3E West Georgia 68
Christian Brothers continued their strong play in the last game of yesterday’s action, cruising to a huge second-half lead before the Wolves brought it back to single-digits in the end. They will play North Alabama in the late game tonight, and it will probably be a matchup of the conference’s two best teams.
Nick Kohs had a strong, efficient double-double for the Bucs, totaling 23 points and 14 rebounds, with both figures leading his team. Kevin Weybright also had 23 on just 9 field goal attempts. CBU shot the ball unbelievably well, with a true shooting percentage of over 70, but they only managed 37 shots because they played so poorly in the other key areas of rebounding and ball control. UWG had almost 30 more shot attempts than the Bucs, but they couldn’t convert enough of them to stay in the game.
I’m thinking this type of game won’t happen again for the Bucs, and they’ll actually have to do something other than shoot the ball well if they intend to beat North Alabama tonight.
Updated GSC Tournament Log5 Predictions
As the tournament field gets smaller, the favorites’ chances of winning increase somewhat (although not as much as if there had been a few upsets). Here are the latest odds:
A few notes:
- Everyone’s chances of winning increased, but Harding ends up playing a pretty evenly-matched opponent in the semis, and they come out on the very bottom of the new list.
- CBU’s almost up to a 1-in-3 chance of winning, but they also have a tough opponent in North Alabama.
- Today’s games should be good ones, and hopefully the Bisons will advance farther than they ever have in the GSC Tournament. That would happen with a win today.
Stats are also updated through yesterday’s games, if you want to see them.
Elsewhere in the South Region
The SSC tournament doesn’t pick back up until today, so UNA needs to keep winning if they want a shot at the #1 seed in the NCAAs. Florida Southern and Tampa are both in action today to defend their seeds.
Benedict faces Clark Atlanta tonight, and everyone outside the SIAC is rooting for them to win, so that there’s an extra spot for an at-large team in the Regionals.
The best-case scenario for Harding today would be a Bison win, a CBU loss, and a Benedict win. That would knock out one more team ahead of them in the regional rankings and make the Bisons the presumptive #5 seed, safe from any more conference tournament upsets. Florida Southern and Tampa are almost certainly safe in terms of making it in the tournament, so it’s probably best if they also win today.
However, if neither Florida Southern nor Tampa wins the SSC, that leaves open the possibility of the regionals being hosted by UNA, which would be great for Bison fans actually being able to travel and see them. Of course, if someone else wins the SSC, that’s an at-large bid taken away, which would be bad news in the event of a Bison loss to VSU today. So for now, we need a win to feel safer.