(Courtesy: Harding Lady Bison)
SEARCY, Ark. (Harding) - The sixth-ranked Harding women's basketball team defeated Ouachita Baptist 72-65 on Saturday in Great American Conference action. The Lady Bisons improved to 23-1 overall and 15-1 in the GAC. Its the most conference games Harding has won since joining the NCAA in 1997.
With the win, Harding will at least share the conference regular season title. Southwestern Oklahoma is in second place in the GAC standings with an 11-5 conference record.
Harding started the game slowly and trailed Ouachita Baptist in the first eight minutes until junior guard Tabitha Haney hit a 3-pointer to give the Lady Bisons a 15-14 lead. The Lady Tigers stayed close the rest of the first half and cut the Harding lead to two at 38-36 at halftime. Ouachita Baptist finished the half on a 12-0 run.
The game stayed close throughout the second half until Montana Lewis hit a layup with 3:24 left to give Harding a 10-point lead. Ouachita Baptist cut the lead to four with 51 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Nashia James, but Harding hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final minutes to seal the win.
Freshman guard A'ndrea Haney led the Lady Bisons with a season-high 17 points, making 11-of-12 from the free throw line. She also had six assists.
Junior forward Arielle Saunders had 12 points. Senior forward Kristen Celsor had 10 points and nine rebounds. Both Saunders and Celsor battled foul trouble throughout the game.
Ouachita Baptist (6-16, 4-12 GAC) was led by Erica Sharp who captured a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Harding turned the Lady Tigers' 19 turnovers into 20 points.
Harding made 25-of-34 free throws. It was the second most free throws the Lady Bisons have made this season. Harding made 27 against Henderson State on Jan. 9.
The Lady Bisons will be back in action on Thursday as they travel to Magnolia, Ark., to face Southern Arkansas at 5:30 p.m.