Saturday, December 11, 2010

Six Straight: Harding Downs Missouri S&T at Rhodes

SEARCY – Harding won its sixth straight overall and ninth straight at home Saturday with a 79-53 victory over Missouri S&T in non-conference men's basketball action at the Rhodes Field House. Harding is off to a 9-1 start for only the third time in program history.

Harding scored the final eight points of the first half to take a 36-29 lead into the break. The Bisons led 43-35 with 16:28 left in the second half and held the Miners scoreless for the next seven minutes and jumped out a 56-36 lead.

Harding led by as many as 31 points with just under three minutes left in the game.

Senior Stephen Blake hit 5-of-9 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line to lead Harding with 16 points. Senior Kevin Brown had 15 points and a team-high six rebounds. Sophomore Bradley Spencer had 11 points and freshman Hayden Johnson came off the bench to score 10.

Missouri S&T (5-3) led the Great Lakes Valley Conference in scoring defense and opponents field goal percentage, but Harding shot 51 percent from the field and made 10-of-19 three-pointers, 53 percent.

Harding held a 36-21 rebound advantage and committed a season-low 12 turnovers. The Bisons converted 16 Miner turnovers into 27 points.

Missouri S&T sophomore guard Bryce Foster entered the game averaging 16.3 points per game, but Harding's defense held him to 4-of-11 shooting and just nine points. The Miners shot 43 percent from the field, but went to the foul line just 10 times, converting seven. Harding made 17-of-26 free throws.

Senior Mike Malat scored 12 of his team-leading 15 points in the first half for Missouri S&T.

Harding was also 9-1 after 10 games in 1995-96 and 2008-09. The 1995-96 team advanced to the NAIA National Tournament, and the 2008-09 team played in the championship game of the Gulf South Conference Tournament.

The Bisons now lead the all-time series with the Miners 5-2 and have won all three meetings in Searcy.
Harding's next action is Friday, Dec. 17 against ninth-ranked Alabama-Huntsville. The game will tipoff at the Rhodes Field House at 7:30 p.m.

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