Bison bounce Wonder Boys, 75-61

Brian Johnson
Sports Editor
Oklahoma Baptist University’s Brantley Thompson (10) goes in for a contested shot while teammate Dishon Lowery (15) goes in for a possible rebound against Arkansas Tech on Saturday.    

Grit and determination on the boards and the on the defensive end of the floor certainly paid dividends for the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison in Great American Conference men’s basketball play Saturday at the Noble Complex.

OBU dominated the boards, 46-27, and created 12 steals in rolling to a 75-61 victory over the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys.

“Our players, over the last seven games and again today, have really bought into the defensive end of the floor,” said Bison head coach Jason Eaker. “We gotta continue to improve obviously in a hurry to get ready for this four-game road string which will all be such tough games.”

OBU forced ATU into 18 turnovers while overcoming 20 of their own.

The Bison’s 12-steal effort were led by Harrison Stoddart with three along with Jaquan Simms, Rashad Lewis and Kurt Hall with two apiece.

But where OBU was really overwhelming was on the boards as 12 of their 46 came on the offensive end while the Wonder Boys had just five off the offensive glass.

The Bison managed to convert only three 3-point shots in 16 attempts (18.8%) and were only 20-of-34 (58.8%) from the free-throw line, but the rest of the offensive categories were effective. OBU shot a respectable 48.1% from the floor overall and had 18 assists on its 26 field-goal makes.

Stoddart topped the Bison scoring effort with 16 points as he connected on 6-of-8 shots, including 1-of-3 from long range, and 3-of-4 free throws to go with five rebounds. Thompson followed with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor and 3-of-4 free shots to go with five assists.

Jarius Hicklen and Hall tossed in 10 points each for OBU as Hicklen was 8-of-10 from the charity stripe. Hall drained 4-of-5 shots from the field, including one trey, to go with five rebounds.

Lewis finished with nine points, six rebounds and six assists for the Bison and Dishon Lowery registered seven points and seven boards. Simms was the top rebounder with nine to go with his five points.

ATU shot just 39% for the game, including 32.1% from 3-point territory. The Wonder Boys were just 6-of-10 from the line (60%).

Tony Hall led the way for the visitors with 20 while Kevin McNeal and Devante Foster tallied 10 apiece. Hall was 8-of-15 from the floor, including 4-of-9 from outside the arc.

OBU led 36-30 at the half and stretched the advantage to 40-30 to start the second half after back-to-back baskets by Stoddart and Lowery, but a 7-0 run by the Wonder Boys clipped the deficit to three, 40-37.

However, the Bison answered the call with seven straight points – a Simms follow shot, Stoddart free throw, Lewis runner and Hall turnaround jump hook - made it 47-37 with 11:38 to go.

From that point on ATU was unable to get closer than seven.

Though OBU went through some free-throw shooting woes, the Bison did have a stretch in which they nailed 15-of-18 tries through a 12-minute span of the second half with Hicklen hitting 6-of-8 during that stretch.

“We are so thankful for another great conference win today against another well-coached quality team in Arkansas Tech,” Eaker said. “Not only were they the Division 2 NABC National Team of the Week last week, but our staff believes they are the most talented team top to bottom in the GAC. In this league you better hold serve at home which we have done so far and then find a way to steal a few wins on the road.”

The Bison, 10-4 overall and 5-3 in the GAC, will play Thursday at arch-rival Southern Nazarene Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Sawyer Center in Bethany.