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Cold second half, turnovers doom Bison against ECU

Oklahoma Baptist Athletics

It was a tale of two halves on Thursday evening inside the Noble Complex as Oklahoma Baptist University used a red-hot shooting half to build a double-digit first-half lead.

However, a dismal second half from the field, plus turnovers, spelled disaster for the Bison as East Central University stormed back to take a 76-72 road win.

OBU shot 26 of 56 (46%) from the field including an unbelievable 18 of 29 (62%) in the first half. However, OBU was only 8 of 27 (30%) in the second half. The Bison shot 9 of 26 (35%) from behind the arc including seven 3-pointers in the first half and were 11 of 15 (73%) from the line.

On the other end, ECU remained steady in both halves, shooting 24 of 61 (39%) overall from the field and 9 of 24 (38%) from deep. The Tigers were 19 of 24 (79%) from the line.

Similar to the previous contest, turnovers were a key piece as the Bison turned it over 15 times to only eight giveaways from ECU.

It was an even first half in the early going, but one thing was evident from tip, Brantly Thompson had a hot hand. The senior from Tuttle scored nine points in the first four minutes to build an 11-9 lead.

The two teams traded blows back-and-forth in the first half, exchanging the lead to build up to a 27-all tie with five minutes to go. From there, the Bison ripped off a 10-0 run including a 3-pointer from Trey Green, a 3-point play from Harrison Stoddart, and four points from Jarius Hicklen.

ECU cut it down to five, but OBU scored seven of the last nine points behind Hicken, Stoddart, and Thompson to take a 44-34 lead at the break.

The Bison pushed their lead to 12 very early in the second half, but the Bison went cold thanks in part to turnovers. A renowned ECU team built momentum by getting turnovers and turning it into buckets to climb back into the game. 

A 13-0 run erased a 12-point lead and gave the Tigers a 49-48 lead with 15:11 to play. OBU pushed it back to eight thanks to 3-pointers from Thompson and Green, but another big run by ECU, this time a 13-2 spurt, gave them a 64-61 lead with under seven to play.

The Bison would push it as close as one in the final seven minutes, but could never regain the lead as East Central grinded out the rest of the contest and escaped Shawnee with a stunning 76-72 win. It was OBU's first loss in the Sawyer Center in seven tries after winning 15 of their last 16.

Thompson finished with 24 points including six 3-pointers to go with eight boards and four assists while Hicklen added 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. Stoddart scored 11 points to go with seven boards, five assists, and three blocks while Green scored 10 points with six boards and three assists. Nigel Wilcox was excellent down low with nine points, eight rebounds, and four blocks.

Jalen Crutchfield led ECU with 20 points and five rebounds while Tylor Arnold added 18 points and five boards. Brennen Burns had 16 points and four assists while Josh Apple had nine points and 10 boards.

OBU moved to 1-3 on the young season and 1-2 in Great American Conference play. They return to action on Saturday in Weatherford as they take on Southwestern Oklahoma State at 4 p.m.