Great three-point shooting and solid defense carried the Bisons to an opening-round victory last night in the GSC Tournament. Harding defeated West Alabama 82-56, and the Bisons got out to such a hot start that it was never a close game.
Sam Brown led the team with four threes and 16 points, but three other Bisons reached double figures in scoring: Trent Morgan, Kevin Brown, and Stephen Blake.
UWA, on the other hand, had real scoring problems and shot just 33% from the field. Leading scorer Jamaine Nance shot just 3-of-14 from the field, instead doing most of his damage at the free-throw line. Harding’s forwards contributed directly to the poor shooting, with Kevin Brown and Brian Howard blocking five shots between them.
The Bisons had a rebounding edge in this one, but it was pretty much cancelled out by their turnover problems. Three different Bisons had at least 3 turnovers, and the team totaled 17. Three-point shooting was obviously the story here, so that and the Bisons’ poor free-throw shooting turned out not to matter.
Harding faces West #1 seed Christian Brothers on Friday evening in the GSC quarterfinals. The Bisons split their games with the Bucs this year, with each team winning on the other’s home court. The January game in Memphis was significantly closer, though, as the Bisons needed some clutch shooting to pull that one out, while the Bucs rolled to victory in Searcy last month. The same two teams faced off in last year’s GSC championship game, with the Bucs fighting past a late Bison rally to win 93-89.
The Bisons and Coach Morgan will need to figure out a way to contain CBU center Nick Kohs, who was recently honored as GSC West Player of the Year. Kohs averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds in the previous two contests. The Bisons have precisely no one who can match up to him individually, so it’s not going to be easy, and they also have GSC West first-team guard Reggie Peyton to cover.