Harding Bisons fall at Christian Brothers in season opener

SEARCY (Harding) – Christian Brothers made nine more free throws than Harding and never trailed in the game, defeating the Bisons 69-62 on Tuesday in non-conference men's basketball action at Canale Arena.

It was the opening game of the 2011-12 season for Harding, which lost its season-opener for the first time since 2008. Christian Brothers improved to 2-0 and snapped a three-game losing streak to Harding. The teams were playing as members of different conferences for the first time since 1999, as Harding has moved from the Gulf South Conference to the Great American Conference.

Christian Brothers' Harry Green scored the first basket of the game, and the Bucs led by as many as 11 points in the first half before taking a 30-23 lead into halftime.

Harding cut the lead to one point at 45-44 with 8:09 left on a layup by junior college transfer DeAntra Scott. Christian Brothers then went on a 16-3 run over the next five minutes to build a 61-47 lead with 3:10 remaining. Harding got no closer than six the rest of the way.

Junior guard Bradley Spencer led Harding and tied a career high with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He made 3-of-7 3-pointers. Scott had 18 points, hitting 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Harding made 9-of-24 (38 percent) 3-point attempts.

Harding senior Kirk Porter, the Bisons' leading returning scorer who missed much of the preseason with a foot injury, played 20 minutes and had four points, four rebounds, and a team-high four assists.

Harding shot just 35 percent in the first half, but improved to 56 percent in the second half. The Bisons were 24-of-53 (45 percent) for the game. Harding shot just 5-of-11 from the free throw line.

Christian Brothers made 14-of-17 (82 percent) at the free throw line and shot 43 percent from the field. Zack Warner led the Bucs with 23 points, and Green added 16. Scott Dennis had 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Christian Brothers outrebounded Harding 38-26.

Harding has 11 days off before its next game, a road contest against NCAA Division I Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 26.