Boll Weevils dodge Bisons in GACs

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils survived tough shooting to defeat the Harding Bisons 58-54 in the opening game of the Great American Conference men’s basketball tournament Thursday.

UAM will play Southwestern Oklahoma State at noon Saturday for a spot in Sunday afternoon’s final.

The game was a battle from beginning to end, with 10 score ties and eight lead changes. In fact, neither team was able to get more than six points ahead of the other for the full 40 minutes of play.

The rims at Bruin Fieldhouse were not friendly to either team. The Weevils never got their shooting above 35 percent, but made up for it on the boards with 16 offensive rebounds converted to 21 second-chance points.

Harding (13-14) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead as the Weevils (21-8) had the jitters early on in the unfamiliar surroundings. The shooting never really improved, but the combination of rebounds, 73 percent free throw shooting, and Bison turnovers allowed the game to remain close.

The Bisons had their largest lead of the game at 23-17, but Lonnie Cottrell sparked an 8-3 run with a pair of back-to-back layups that kept the deficit at 26-25 going into the halftime break. Harding led 52-47 with 5:28 left to play before the Weevils turned on one last surge.

L.A. Farmer got a jumper that sparked a 9-0 run. UAM retook the lead on a layup 2 minutes later from Cottrell and never looked back as the Bisons got one more field goal in the remainder of the game, a layup from Weston Jameson.

Farmer scored 27 points in 40 minutes. Despite going 8 for 25 from the floor, he was 10 for 10 from the foul line.

Kori Forge added 11 points for UAM. The Bisons were led by Zach Roddenberry’s 26 points; Roddenberry hit 8 of 8 from the floor and 10 of 10 from the foul line.