Photos: Bison Sports Awards

All Photos by Jacob Factor/News Editor

The Looks

The Awards

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All 2019 Bison Sports Awards winners:
Outstanding Senior Athletes
Cagney Roberson, Football
McKae Mitchell, Women’s Track & Field

Breakout Athletes of the Year
Harrison Stoddart, Men’s Basketball
Leah Molter, Women’s Track & Field

Newcomers of the Year
Antonio Wade, Men’s Basketball
Konner Shields, Cheer/STUNT

Individual Performances of the Year
Jake Gozzo, Baseball
Victoria Fonville, Women’s Swimming

Heart of a Bison Awards
Brantly Thompson, Men’s Basketball
Jennifer Goethe (Women’s Soccer)

Scholar Athlete Awards
Jonathan Stewart, Men’s Swimming
Emily Sechrist, Women’s Track & Field/Cross Country

The #DavCup Award
Volleyball

Made a Difference Award
Women’s Soccer

Team Academic Award
Women’s Golf

Faculty Mentor Award
Dr. Linda McElroy

Advocate for Athletics Award
Joy Carl

Players honored in Bison and Lady Bison basketball

By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor

The Oklahoma Baptist Men’s and Women’s basketball teams have had a busy start to the new year. Both teams found success throughout the month of January, setting the teams up for a compelling end of the season.  

The Lady Bison saw senior Autumn Avina named U.S. Basketball Writers Association Women’s Division II National Player of the Week for the week ending January 6. 

“Being named Division II Player of the Week was a blessing and something I will never forget,” Avina said. “My team helped me accomplish this goal and had my back the whole way.” 

Additionally, the senior guard from Austin, Texas was named GAC Player of the Week for the same week. She averaged 19.0 points, 7.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 steals for the week, including a triple-double. Not only did she fill up the stat sheet, she did so efficiently, shooting the ball 50 percent (17-of-34) from the field, including 57.1 percent (4-of-7) from three-point range.  

The Lady Bison headed into the last week of January 4-4 on the month. The team ended the month on a road trip to Arkadelphia, AR to face-off against GAC opponents Ouachita Baptist Thursday, January 31 and Henderson State Saturday, February 2.  

“We knew we had to expect some very competitive matchups,” Avina said. “Everyone is hungry for wins and now that we are in the second round of conference everyone is looking to play for March.” 

In the first game, the Lady Bison set the tone early, earning a 24-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.  

“We came out firing and had a great start,” senior Katy Custer said.” We executed the game plan in the first quarter.” 

Unfortunately, over the next three quarters, the Lady Bison saw their lead diminish until they found themselves down in the third quarter. The fourth quarter turned into a defensive battle, but the Lady Bison couldn’t fight their way back into the game. They would eventually fall to Ouachita Baptist 70-59.  

“There was a momentum shift with about 3 minutes left in the second quarter and it felt like we never got it back,” Custer said. “Everyone fought hard, but it was definitely a frustrating one.”  

Custer managed 12 points in the loss, becoming the 29th OBU player to reach 1,000 points in her career. Also, junior Victoria Blankenship finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season and Avina added 10 points and 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season.  

With a bitter taste in their mouths from Thursday’s loss, the Lady Bison turned their attention to their next matchup with Henderson State on Saturday. 

“We definitely were looking forward to the game against HSU,” Custer said. “HSU is one of the top 3-point shooting teams in our conference, so we knew we had to come out focused.”  

Once again, the Lady Bison found success in the first quarter; however, they found themselves in a deep hole by halftime, down 13 points. Henderson State came out in the second half firing on all cylinders to make sure OBU couldn’t dig themselves out of that hole. Despite a decent push by OBU in the fourth quarter, it was too little too late as they would fall 73-64 for their second straight conference defeat.  

“Although we lost, I think there are several positives that we can take away from the performance,” senior Alexa Richards said. “We cut a 23-point deficit to 9 points, and we proved to ourselves that if we simply stick together like we did in the end then we can win tough games.” 

Blankenship led OBU with 21 points and 11 rebounds earning another double-double. OBU also got double-figure scoring from freshman Charissa Price with 16 points, Avina added 15 points, and Custer added 12 points.  

The loss moved OBU to 9-11 overall and 5-9 in the GAC. 

For the Bison, freshman Brantly Thompson was recognized as the GAC Men’s Basketball Player of the week for the week ending January 13. Thompson averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for the week, helping the Bison secure the top spot in the GAC standings.  

To end the month of January, OBU also traveled to Arkadelphia for a pair of difficult road tests against Ouachita and Henderson State. OBU entered the first matchup against Ouachita sitting atop of the GAC standings and surging on a three-game winning streak.  

“We have the number one spot that everyone is racing for,” senior Antonio Wade said. “We are expecting every teams best shot.”  

Well, that’s exactly what they got from Ouachita. Despite racking up a 7-point halftime lead, the Bison were unable to withstand a 50 point second-half from Ouachita. OBU would lose a close one, 77-71. The Bison’s three-game winning streak would be snapped, and they would be bumped into a tie for second place in the GAC.  

“We missed a lot of shots we usually make which was a big factor in the game,” sophomore Harrison Stoddart said. “I feel like we played great tonight on the road, our shots just would not fall.”  

Stoddard led OBU with 21 points on the night. Also, freshman Mohammed Abubakar added 13 points and Wade and senior Julian Daughtry added 10 apiece.  

Looking to bounce back, the Bison squared off against Henderson State two days later.  

“We knew we would have to keep fighting through the adversity,” Stoddart said. “We wanted to stay focused as a team and fight together.” 

The Bison sputtered out of the starting blocks against Henderson State and found themselves fighting from behind the rest of the way. OBU found itself down 21-6 after the first eight minutes of play. Despite the slow start, the Bison were able to cut the deficit to 7 points two different times. However, the Bison could never fully recover from their slow start, eventually falling to Henderson State 66-57. 

“The tough truth is that mediocrity cannot win tough games on the road,” Wade said. “We are learning what it takes to win on the road when the odds are stacked against us. Every loss we learn more about ourselves.”  

Wade led the team with 17 points and Thompson added 13 points of his own. The loss moved OBU to sole owners of the third-place mark in the GAC. 

“This team is incredibly resilient,” Wade said. “This team has set the bar for success and we are constantly pursuing that everyday regardless of the obstacles we face.” 

The Bison currently hold an overall record of 11-9 and a 10-4 GAC record. With the Great American Conference postseason push heating up, the next few games are going to be pivotal.  

Both the Bison and Lady Bison will travel to Durant, OK Thursday, February 7 looking to bounce back against Southeastern Oklahoma State University. After, they will be welcoming Southwestern Oklahoma State University to the Noble Complex Saturday, February 9. 

 

 

 

 

Bison basketball wins big over Barclay

By Jared A’Latorre, Sports Editor

The Bison basketball squad showed heart and no disappointment in their season debut with a whopping 46-point exhibition win over Barclay College.

The crowd was up and ready for the Bison and for Head Coach Jason Eaker’s debut.

The Bison were having fun on all sides of the ball. On the perimeter, the shot was on.

On defense, they picked up some decent takeaways leading to easy scores.

Barclay was not shooting the ball that well, and the Bison took advantage of the off game for the Bears in the shooting game.

With many newcomers, the Bison looked like they were clicking every second.

Even though the new look Bison featured 10 new players, they handled the game well and performed like veterans.

Junior Dishon Lowery was working his opponents down low and came up extremely successful.

Lowery also finished with a double-double in the game.

Senior Davion Turner showed that he was aggressive down low and came up big on defense.

Sophomore Brantly Thompson was on the money with his shot from beyond the arc, and senior Antonio Wade finished in double figures and played splendidly on both sides of the ball.

Before the season began, Wade felt respected with the uniforms that his team received.

The uniforms look like they are ready to begin playing.

“I love the uniforms and warm-up gear we received, we look professional,” Wade said.

Wade was also praising his teammates for the good job they did in their debut. They were a force to be tested in the future starting with the blowout victory.

They shared the workload as a team and everybody seemed like the star.

“The guys were great, and everyone gave a good effort and played unselfishly, that’s all we can ask for every time we play,” Wade said.

He also praised the effort for his coach over the blowout win.

The Bison came into the game well prepared and it started with Eaker.

“Coach Eaker is very detailed,” Wade said. “He works assiduously to improve us in every aspect.”

Wade thinks that for his teammates to be better and for anyone that wants to be better is to be mentored by Eaker. The Bison seem lucky to have Eaker fall into the hands of the players of Bison Hill.

“Any player who wants to be great will develop great respect and appreciation for Coach Eaker,” Wade said.

One of the transfer players, Rashad Lewis, came to OBU and reunited with his assistant coach from Mercer University.

He felt that his team was really focused to come out and play.

“Going into the game, I felt extremely confident in our team,” Lewis said. “We have been working really hard in practice to prepare for it.”

Like his other teammates, he appreciated sharing the ball with his teammates with getting everybody in on the action.

“I enjoyed watching everyone play hard and unselfish,” Lewis said. “Multiple people were involved, and everyone was happy for one another success on the court.”

With Lewis now in a Bison uniform, he feels that the change is not much different as he thought at first.

Eaker was a former assistant at Mercer with Lewis on his squad. “It honestly doesn’t feel any different,” Lewis said.

His history with Eaker shows that they have chemistry on and off the court.

“At our previous school, coach was involved a lot and gave me instructions all through my two years of being there, so transitioning here just felt natural,” Lewis said.

The Bison will take the court in the GAC-MIAA matchup against Washburn and the University of Nebraska at Kerney on the road for Nov. 9

 

Men’s basketball season ends; women headed to playoffs

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.”

 

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Courtesy photo/Bison Athletics

 

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.

Men’s and Women’s basketball split with Rangers

By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor  (Photo by Preston Morris/The Bison)

The Oklahoma Baptist men’s and women’s basketball teams hit the floor Thursday evening for a matchup against the Rangers of Northwestern Oklahoma State University. OBU went one and one overall the night against the Rangers as the Lady Bison secured a solid 98 – 89 win and the Bison were barely edged out in a 75-76 loss. Heading into their matchup, the Lady Bison had a difficult contest ahead.

“We were expecting a tough game against a good team,” junior Alexa Richards said. “Both of us are competing for a spot in the post-season.”

Knowing they had a tough night ahead of them, the Lady Bison came ready to battle. After getting off to a slow start and falling behind by double digits in the second quarter, the Lady Bison stormed back in the second half. They were able to post 55 points to the Rangers 36 points, capturing the win.

“We never gave up,” Richards said. “We kept fighting until the end.”

In their contest, the Lady Bison had six players score in double figures. The team shot the ball efficiently, shooting an overall 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from the three-point line, and 80 percent from the free throw line.

“The team really came together when it mattered,” Richards said. “Everyone stepped up and made big things happen.”

With their win, the Lady Bison moved to 8-10 overall in the GAC standings, keeping them within striking distance of the #4 seed for the post-season.

 

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Photo by Preston Morris/The Bison, Senior guard Vladimir Nemcok dribbles the ball up the floor

 

 

The men’s basketball team, however, just fell short against NWOSU. The game saw multiple crunch time plays including a three-pointer from senior Vladimir Nemcok; however, the Rangers came back as they were able to counter Nemcok’s three-pointer with the game-winning layup.

“Despite the loss, I think the team’s performance had a lot of positives,” junior Spencer Lindsey said. “NWOSU is ranked number two in the conference, so we were expecting a battle.”

The Bison were led by senior Chandler Rickey, who ended with 26 points, and Nemcok, who added 14 points.

“We were expecting to win,” Lindsey said. “I thought we played with a lot of energy and fought the full 40 minutes.”

The loss pushes the Bison to 6-12 in the GAC standings and makes the road to the post-season a tougher one. The Lady Bison and Bison return to action in Durant, Oklahoma Saturday, February 17 against Southeastern Oklahoma State.

 

Men’s Basketball team hopes to get back on track

By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor   (Courtesy Photo/Bison Athletics)

The Oklahoma Baptist men’s basketball team has endured a difficult start to the new year.

After ending 2017 on a three-game winning streak, the Bison have hit a bit of a rough patch. Since returning from winter break, the Bison have a record of 4-8 pushing them to 9-13 overall on the season.

“We have definitely let some games go that we should’ve won,” freshman Laef Payne said. “We have a lot of talent on this team that can help get our season back on the right track.”

Despite the recent skid, the Bison are still well in position to earn a spot in the Great American Conference post-season tournament and have a shot at a title.

“I feel like we still have a chance to grab the eighth seed,” senior Travon Moore said. “We need to take it a game at a time and try our best to win the last six games of our regular season.”

The Bison currently sit at tenth place in the conference standings and are two games out of the eighth seed.

One thing that will play a key role in the Bison’s playoff push is protecting the rim and paint.

“Something that has continued to improve for us is our defense,” Moore said.

“Recently, we have been doing a better job of grinding out plays and getting stops.”

The Bison currently have the second most blocks in the GAC with a total of 105 so far this season. Senior Chandler Rickey has been responsible for 62 of those blocks.

Another key to the Bison’s success is their protection of the ball.

The Bison are ranked 3rd in the league in their assists per turnover ratio at 1.3. Lastly, the Bison must continue to shoot the ball efficiently from three.

OBU is ranked third in the GAC in three-point field goals made with 212 on the season.

“This team has high expectations,” Payne said. “We are expecting nothing less than to make into the top eight for the regional tournament, and to go all the way to win the national title.”

The Bison believe they have all the pieces to do so as well as the confidence to do so.

The Bison continue their chase for the post-season this Thursday, February 15 as they welcome Northwestern Oklahoma State University to the Noble Complex and again on Saturday at Southeastern.