By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor (Courtesy photo/Bison Athletics)
The men’s and women’s basketball teams wrapped up the 2017/18 regular season with a pair of away contests beginning in Weatherford, Oklahoma Friday, February 23 and ending in Ada, Oklahoma Saturday, February 24.
In the first games of the back-to-back, the Bison would ultimately defeat Southwestern Oklahoma State University 101-89; however, the Lady Bison would fall 72-100. For the Bison, they had previously defeated SWOSU earlier in the season, so they knew that they had to prepare for a tough contest with the Bulldogs.
“We were ready to give everything we had in our last two games,” freshman Laef Payne said. “The team wanted to show our pride in our performance.”
The Bison came out firing on all cylinders, posting 52 points in the first half and 49 points in the second half led by senior Vladimir Nemcok’s 29 points and freshman Brantly Thompson’s 21 points.
On the defensive end of the ball, OBU held SWOSU to 46 points in the first half and only 43 points in the second, securing a 12-point victory.
The Bison’s hot shooting from the field would fuel their performance as they averaged a combined 51.2 percent field goal percentage and a 38.2 percent 3-point percentage on the evening.
Furthermore, a big reason for the Bison’s success with shooting the ball came from their ability to move the ball and get efficient looks at the rim.
Two of the five starters were able to dish out six or more assists. The combination of efficiency, unselfishness and determination were all key to the Bison’s success.
“We did a great job of sticking to the game plan,” senior Travon Moore said. “We knew it was going to be a difficult environment, but we focused on ourselves rather than getting distracted by the outside noise.”
With their win, the Bison would set a new OBU NCAA-era record of 10 wins.
“It’s really nice to see the progress of our team,” junior Spencer Lindsey said. “We are beginning to feel more confident in the GAC, and it is showing.”
For the Lady Bison, they entered the looking to break a two-game skid; however, they struggled to stop the potent Bulldog offense.
“With SWOSU being the number one seed for the tournament, we knew it would be a diffi cult match-up,” freshman Sydney Hein said. “We were expecting a physical battle, and it didn’t disappoint.”
OBU, a team only allowing 75.9 points per contest across the season, allowed SWOSU to score 100 points in the game.
Notably, the Bulldogs were able to shoot twenty-four free throws, twenty-one of which they made; whereas the Lady Bison only attempted five and made four.
The Lady Bison were paced by juniors McKenzie Cooper and Kadesha Cooper, who both posted 18 points on the night.
“They came out and played exactly how we were expecting them to,” Hein said. “They hit shots, got to the rim and dominated on the boards. They got the better of us.”
After traveling to Weatherford Friday, the teams had a quick turnaround as they then traveled to Ada, Oklahoma to face-off against East Central University. Against the Tigers, the Bison would fall 73-81 and the Lady Bison would lose 53-64.
The men’s game was back-and-forth for the majority of the game, featuring ten ties and nine lead changes; however after an 8-0 run from the Tigers with 8:51 to play, the result would get away from the Bison.
The Bison enjoyed a nice night shooting the ball from the field, shooting 47.3 percent, but the Bison’s 29.0 percent from 3-point range and 54.5 percent from the free throw line would come back to the haunt them in the end.
The Bison were led by senior Chandler Rickey’s 31 points and 9 rebounds, but just fell short in the end. This brought the Bison’s season to an end; they were able to finish with a 10-18 record overall and a 7-15 Great American Conference record.
“This team was a brotherhood,” Moore said. “That’s something I will always cherish.”
The Lady Bison, who had already claimed a play-off spot, looked to end the regular season on a high note against ECU.
Ultimately, the team struggled to find the range from the field, shooting an overall 27.1 percent from the field. Despite this, the Lady Bison’s defensive efforts shined bright as they held ECU to only 64 points.
Their defense kept them within striking distance for the majority of the contest, but they were unable to convert shots when they needed them.
“We endured a ton of adversity in the game,” senior Lexi Williams said. “However, we still stuck together and fought for one another.”
Junior Avina Autumn led the Lady Bison with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Although they didn’t win the game, the Lady Bison were able to get their defense refocused and minds retuned for the playoffs.
“We still feel like we haven’t played our best brand of basketball yet,” Williams said. “The best is yet to come.”
The Lady Bison enter the GAC postseason tournament as the eighth seed and are set for a rematch against SWOSU in the first round.
“We are pumped for the rematch,” Williams said. “We know what to expect from them and we know what it will take to win.”
The Lady Bison will travel to Bartlesville, Oklahoma Thursday, March 2 for the matchup. Be sure to check out complete 2018 GAC Basketball tournament brackets for men and women on page 12.