Oklahoma Baptist men's basketball team off to 2-0 start

Oklahoma Baptist Athletics
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
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Oklahoma Baptist was given all it could handle as it took extra time for the Bison to take down NSIC powerhouse Minnesota State-Moorhead, 90-87, to wrap up a 2-0 run in the GAC/NSIC challenge on Saturday night.

Both squads struggled to put the ball in the basket as both finished the night shooting under 38%. Down the stretch, the ability to make free throws made the difference as the Bison held a 25-17 advantage at the charity stripe.

Point dispersal was pretty even as the stat sheet doesn't show a clear front-runner besides the final score. The Dragons outscored OBU's bench 26-9, but the Bison hustled to 17 fast-break points and 19 second-chance opportunities.

The longevity and conditioning of Oklahoma Baptist proved to be helpful, as OBU was able to keep its legs long enough to outlast Minnesota State-Moorhead.

It was a cold start for the Bison as the Dragons hopped out to a 13-5 lead. However, OBU kept its composure as a couple of Brantly Thompson buckets sparked a 19-7 Oklahoma Baptist run that gave OBU a 24-20 lead.

The Bison continued to gel through the inaugural half, leading by as much as 11. The momentum didn't faze the Dragons as MSUM battled back to close the gap and trail 37-33 going into the break.

The two juggernauts continued to battle through the third, suffocating each other with great defensive effort. It seemed like OBU had the game sealed up as time wound down in the second half, but Minnesota-State kept fighting. MSUM put in a lay-up as time expired in regulation to tie the game and force extra time.

Despite Oklahoma Baptist leading the entire first overtime period, the Dragons made shots when it mattered most. They tied the Bison again and lived to play another five minutes.

The Bison finally shut the door of opportunity as 10 made free-throws carried OBU to the promised land and gave them their second win of the season.

Thompson led all scorers with 26 points, as he made a team-high nine free throws. The work at the charity stripe earned Thompson and teammate Burke Putnam leading roles in the victory. Putnam converted eight free throws to go along with his 26 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Jaquan Simms led the squad from 3-point land, cashing on four en route to his 17 points.

Freshman D.J. Freeman played valuable minutes before fouling out late in the contest with nine points and five boards. Justin Tene did the work down low that the Bison needed as he brought down 11 rebounds and charted five points.

Oklahoma Baptist will look to next week as the Bison travel to St. Joseph, Missouri, for a Friday night matchup with MIAA affiliate Missouri Western. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

OBU 74, Wayne State 61 (Friday)

Putnam's first-game performance with Oklahoma Baptist was nothing short of outstanding as the guard led the Bison to a 74-61 win against Wayne State during the first night of the GAC/NSIC Challenge.

He scored 33 points on 14-of-21 shooting (66.7%) to help the green and gold win its season opener. Three others - Thompson, Nigel Wilcox and Harrison Stoddart - scored 10 each for OBU. For Wilcox, he also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.