Oklahoma Baptist is headed back to Kansas City after assuring itself the automatic berth as the top seed in next week’s Sooner Athletic Conference Tourna- ment, thanks to an 82-70 win at Northwestern Thursday.


Oklahoma Baptist is headed back to Kansas City after assuring itself the automatic berth as the top seed in next week’s Sooner Athletic Conference Tourna- ment, thanks to an 82-70 win at Northwestern Thursday.
The win gives OBU at least a share of the regular season conference title and the Bison own tiebreakers on the only teams that can reach them — Southern Nazarene and Rogers State. That gives OBU the top seed in the tournament and one of two SAC automatic bids to the NAIA Tournament in Kansas City.
“Our guys really played well tonight,” said OBU Coach Doug Tolin. “We made some mistakes with the ball, but we came out with a road win in a must- win situation.”
It looked bleak for the Bison early, as Northwestern jumped out to a 14-3 lead. But the Bison got the transition game in gear and owned a 39-34 edge by halftime.
“Our guys really did a good job on the boards and that allows you to get out in transition,” said Tolin, whose squad out-rebounded the Rangers 43-27. “We were down 14-3 and our transition game really got us going.”
Northwestern had trouble with OBU’s Kevin Swinton inside and Tim Bowman outside. Swinton had 27 points on eight-of-12 shooting to go with nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Bowman lit up the gym from outside, knocking down 8 three-pointers in 13 attempts on his way to a 26-point outing.
OBU led by as many as 14 midway through the second half, but the Rangers got the lead down to four points with three minutes to go. Bowman answered the threat with a three-pointer to stem the rally.
“I know Tim hit a big three-pointer when they cut it to six or seven, right at the end of the shot clock,” said Tolin. “All the seniors played well tonight. Kevin did a great job moving the ball out of the double-team and attacking when he did.”
Marshall Bell led Northwestern with 25 points.
OBU, now 22-7 overall and 16-5 in the SAC, can win the conference outright with a win at home Saturday in the regular season finale against Oklahoma Christian. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.