Bison bounce back to beat Bulldogs, 84-78

Oklahoma Baptist Athletics
Oklahoma Baptist's Jarius Hicklen (5) glides in for a basket during a game against East Central in February.

WEATHERFORD - It may have felt like déjà vu for the Oklahoma Baptist men's basketball team as it entered the Pioneer Event Center on Saturday afternoon.

Similarly to a month ago, the Bison were coming off a tough home loss to East Central again and were facing a hungry Southwestern Oklahoma State team, looking to add another loss and knock off top-seeded OBU. 

However, the result was the same as a month ago. A Bison road win.

OBU hit clutch shot after clutch shot and got huge games from seniors Harrison Stoddart and Brantly Thompson as the Bison escaped Weatherford with an 84-78 victory to improve to 10-4 overall and 10-3 in the GAC, moving a full three games ahead of East Central and Southern Nazarene.

Stoddart put together another masterful performance, scoring 25 points on 10 of 14 shooting, just two off his career-high 27 that he scored earlier in the year in Weatherford, and adding 12 rebounds and one block. Brantly Thompson scored 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting, including six assists and four rebounds.

Trey Green added a career-high 12 points with five rebounds and three triples while Hicklen finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Simms scored seven and had three assists while Jordan Thompson had a pair of steals and five points.

The Bison shot 29 of 57 (51%) from the field and 11 of 30 (37%) from deep while going an impressive 15 of 19 (79%) from the free-throw line. On the other end, SWOSU went 28 of 58 (48%) from the field and 6 of 24 (25%) from deep including 16 of 22 (73%) from the line.

OBU dominated the boards, earning a 39-26 advantage including 13 offensive boards and 20 second-chance points compared to 10 from the Bulldogs.

SWOSU came out red-hot early on as it scored 16 points in the first 4:30 to open up a 10-point lead. The Bison got good looks and were able to shoot well, but offensive fouls and turnovers were the issue early in the contest.

OBU knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers from Green and Thompson to cut it to four points before SWOSU raced the lead back out to six. 

Down 22-16 at the 10-minute mark, OBU scored the next five points on buckets from Stoddart to cut it down to one and the two teams exchanged buckets back-and-forth throughout the half with the Bison never able to wrangle the lead from Southwestern.

The Bulldogs opened up a five point lead with 1:25 to play and OBU responded by closing the half with five straight points, thanks to a Thompson 3-pointer and a Stoddart lay-in to even the game at 38 apiece at half. Thompson was excellent in the half with 16 points to keep the Bison within range and eventually tie it up.

The game shifted in the second half as OBU opened up a 41-38 lead thanks to a 3-point play from Stoddart. After a jumper from SWOSU, Stoddart followed with a jumper of his own to keep the lead at three.

The Bulldogs regained the lead at 44-43, but OBU opened up a 10-2 run thanks to buckets from Stoddart followed by a three ball from Jaquan Simms and a 3-point play from Jarius Hicklen as the Bison opened up a seven-point lead at 53-46.

SWOSU scored the next six points to bring it back to a one-point game, but OBU opened it back up to five on another bucket from Hicklen. The Bulldogs came back to even it at 57, but a 3-pointer from Green got the lead back to three.

The Bison kept their foot on the gas pedal as buckets from Stoddart and Thompson kept the lead at 65-60. SWOSU again responded, this time with seven straight points to take a 67-65 lead with seven minutes to play.

After a Thompson free throw cut it to one, Jordan Thompson came through with a clutch 3-pointer in the corner to get the lead back to 69-67. After exchanging buckets to keep it even at 71, Green stepped up big and buried a 3-pointer to get the lead to 74-71. Moments later, Brantly Thompson hit a huge 3-pointer of his own to push the lead to six.

SWOSU had one final push, scoring the next seven points to take a 78-77 lead with under two minutes to play. Stoddart followed with a clutch lay-in on a beautifully run play from Brantly while Hicklen knocked down a 3-pointer after a stop for the knock-out punch. 

OBU used free throws down the line to clinch the win and leave Weatherford with another thrilling win at 84-78.

Tauriawn Knight scored 21 points while Chriss Braggs, Jr. added 17 to lead the Bulldogs. Damion Thornton picked up 15 points.

The Bison will return to action on Thursday as they travel down to Durant to take on Southeastern Oklahoma State. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.