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Bison men drop first home game of season

Brian Johnson
Sports Editor
Oklahoma Baptist University’s Jarius Hicklen successfully connects on a 3-point jumper from the corner over Ouachita Baptist’s leaping Kendarious Smith (21) Thursday night at the Noble Complex.    

A critical bucket by Ouachita Baptist’s Raymond Harris with 35 seconds to go proved to be the difference Thursday night as the Tigers handed the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison their first home loss of the season, 64-62, at the Noble Complex.

Harris’ basket gave Ouachita a 64-60 advantage. Ten seconds later, the Bison’s Brantley Thompson drew a foul and converted both ensuing free shots with 25 seconds left.

The Tigers, inbounding underneath the basket, opted to a throw a long pass, but the errant toss and loose ball was corralled by Darius Hicklen. With Ouachita applying pressure out front, Hicklen dished off to Rashad Lewis, who took a few dribbles, pulled up and launched a 30-footer which bounced off the right side of the rim with two seconds to go as the Tigers were able to grasp the rebound as the buzzer sounded.

The Bison, who dropped to 12-7 on the year and 7-6 in the Great American Conference, trailed 32-30 at the half and saw Ouachita build a lead as large as nine, 52-43, with 12:13 to go. Twice, Oklahoma Baptist cut it two before snipping it to one, 58-57, after a Hicklen trey with 5:11 remaining.

But the Bison were unable to get over the hump.

Harris and Allie Freeman topped the victorious Tigers with 15 points each and Morris Talbert supplied 10. Eric Brown pulled down a game-leading 10 rebounds for Ouachita, which held a 31-28 edge on the boards.

The Tigers shot 50% from the floor for the game, but were only 28.6% from 3-point territory. Ouahcita hit 66.7% (8-of-12) from the foul line.

Harrison Stoddart led the Oklahoma Baptist scoring effort with 16 as 14 of those came in the second half to go with six rebounds and a pair of steals. Hicklen added 13 points, one assist and a steal and Dishon Lowery posted up for 10 points, eight boards and a steal. Lewis ended up with nine and handed out four assists. Thompson tacked on seven points, four assists and two steals to the Bison effort.

Oklahoma Baptist struggled with its shooting, connecting on only 35.8% of its tries, including just 24.1% (7-of-29) from outside the arc. The Bison hit at a 70.8% clip from the free-throw stripe (17-of-24).

Going down swinging, Oklahoma Baptist (trailing 52-43) scored seven straight points to stay in contention. A conventional 3-point play by Stoddart, a Lowery put-back shot and a Jaquan Simms basket got the Bison within 52-50.

However, the Tigers routinely slammed the door each time Oklahoma Baptist tried to catch up.

The Bison will try to get back on the winning track Saturday as they entertain Henderson State at 3 p.m. in a GAC contest at the Noble Complex.