LITTLE ROCK – Playing their second game in less than 24 hours, the Harding men's basketball team pulled off a shocking 80-77 victory over UALR, last season's Sun Belt Conference champions, Sunday in a preseason exhibition game at the Jack Stephens Center. The Bisons had not beaten the Trojans in a regular season or exhibition game since Feb. 1, 1973.
In a game plagued by 61 fouls, free throws won it in the end for the Bisons, who open the regular season Nov. 16 at Missouri S&T. Senior Trent Morgan made four straight free throws in the game's final 11 seconds after Sam Brown gave Harding a 76-74 lead on a layup at the 35 second mark.
"I am proud of our guys and the way they battled," said Harding coach Jeff Morgan. "I told them this was a great win for our program, but hopefully it is not the best win we get this year. This was an exhibition. There will be others that are more important."
Trent Morgan corralled a rebound with 40 seconds left and hit Brown for a driving layup. Sophomore Tony Hall then drew a charging foul on UALR's Mike Smith, forcing the Trojans to foul Morgan. Morgan connected on both free throws and gave Harding a 78-74 advantage. UALR guard Matt Mouzy answered with a three-pointer with six seconds left to cut the Harding lead to one, but Morgan hit two more free throws on the next possession to seal the game.
Harding lost 99-70 to Oral Roberts on Saturday night in Tulsa. The team played without head coach Jeff Morgan, who stayed in Searcy with his ailing father, Gerald.
Coach Morgan made the decision at the last minute to coach Sunday's game. Gerald Morgan remains in the hospital in Searcy.
The Bisons spent the night in Tulsa and arrived at the Stephens Center on Sunday just in time for warm-ups.
Harding was led in scoring by junior guard Stephen Blake, who came off the bench to score 18 points. He made three of the Bisons' seven three-pointers in the first half and finished 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Sam Brown scored 15 points and Trent Morgan added 11 for Harding.
Solomon Bozeman, the son of Southern Arkansas head coach Todd Bozeman, led UALR with 27 points. He made 13-of-14 free throws.
Six players fouled out of the game, four from Harding and two from UALR, and 10 players had four or more fouls.
The Bisons hit 20-of-29 free throws (69 percent) and the Trojans made 29-of-38 (76 percent).
Harding led 42-36 at halftime and had a second half lead as large as 10 points.