Thompson, Bison set tournament records in first-round win

Brian Johnson
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
Oklahoma Baptist's Brantly Thompson (left) drives the toward the hoop Wednesday night at the Noble Complex.
Oklahoma Baptist's Jaquan Simms (3) buries a 3-point shot against Ouachita Baptist Wednesday night at the Noble Complex.

It was a record-setting night for the 24th-ranked Oklahoma Baptist University Bison Thursday and Brantly Thompson played a big part in establishing those marks.

Thompson not only tossed in 15 points while knocking down three 3-point shots, but handed a Great American Conference Tournament record 13 assists as Oklahoma Baptist bumped off Ouachita Baptist 97-78 in the opening round at the Noble Complex.

To boot, the Bison set a GAC Tournament for field-goal percentage at 62.9% in a GAC Tournament game and the 97 points were the most ever in a GAC Tournament contest.

“It speaks volumes about our players. We have players who play to win. I'm proud of those team,” said Oklahoma Baptist head coach Jason Eaker. “Our guys felt good that they got to play a new opponent. Ouachita is a really good team.”

It was the Bison's first time to play a GAC team from Arkansas. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Oklahoma squads played each other four times with no scheduled games against the Arkansas teams.

The Bison, 15-4 on the season, advance to the semifinals where they face Southern Arkansas at home Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Noble Complex.

Thompson's record-setting feeds were among 27 on the night for the Bison. Those 27 assists were on 39 makes by Oklahoma Baptist. The Bison were 39 of 62 from the floor overall and 16 of 29 (55.2%) from 3-point land.

“I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates. I have to trust them to hit shots and they,” Thompson said. “Regardless of what's happening, I'm going to continue to trust them.”

As for the record, Thompson was obviously excited.

“It's a huge blessing. I've got to give credit to God,” said Thompson. “I've got to look to maybe rebound one night, score another or set my teammates on another.”

Thompson was one of five Oklahoma Baptist players to score in double figures.

Harrison Stoddart and Jaquan Simms poured in 21 points apiece. Like Thompson, Wilcox tallied 15 points and Jarius Hicklen finished with 13, all in the second half.

Simms drained 8 of 15 shots, including 5 of 9 from outside the arc. Stoddart was 9 of 13 overall and 3 of 5 from 3-point land and Hicklen ended up 5 of 9, including 3 of 5 from long range. Trey Green was 2 of 3 with a pair of treys on his way to six points.

Wilcox was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field, including four second-half dunks to go with five rebounds.

Ouachita Baptist, which shot 49.2% from the floor, received a game-high 28 points from Ma'Darius Hobson, who sank 11 of 15 shots, including 3 of 7 from 3-point territory. Hobson was joined in double figures by teammates Kendarious Smith with 18 and Leon Kalinic with 13. Smith was 7 of 11 shooting and 3 of 4 from outside the arc. Kalincik finished 6 of 13 from the field.

The first half was a fairly close affair. Leading by a slim 37-34 margin, the Bison outscored the Tigers 11-2 in the final 2:51 of the first half in building a 48-36 halftime cushion. Simms knocked down two 3-pointers during that span, Hicklen nailed one and Green drilled a long-range shot.

Oklahoma Baptist saw Ouachita go on a big run to launch the second half. The Tigers pulled to within 54-53 on a Hobson layup.

But that's when the Bison went on an 11-2 spurt to take control again. Stoddart scored off a Jordan Thompson assist and Hicklen executed a slam dunk off a Hicklen feed to make it 58-53 with 14:39 to go.

After a Kalinic basket, Oklahoma Baptist got another dunk from Wilcox, off another Jordan Thompson helper. Stoddart and Brantly Thompson drilled back-to-back treys to push the Bison advantage to 66-55.

The Bison were up 73-64 when they scored 10 unanswered points to keep the lead at double digits the rest of the way. Hicklen knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers. Justin Tene hit a pair of free throws Simms converted a shot to hike the Oklahoma Baptist advantage to 83-64 with 7:15 remaining.

The finals of the GAC Tournament are set for Sunday.