Harding women pull out close one at Northwestern Oklahoma

ALVA, OK (HARDING) - Junior guard Tabitha Haney hit a free throw with 16 seconds left as the 12th-ranked Harding women's basketball team went onto a 76-75 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma on Saturday in Great American Conference action. The Lady Bisons improved to 12-0 on the season and 4-0 in the GAC.

A Northwestern Oklahoma jumper pulled the Rangers within two, 75-73, with 36 seconds remaining. Haney was then fouled. With Harding in the bonus, Haney missed her first free throw but made the second to give Harding a three point lead. Harding's defense caused Relina Johnson's 3-point shot to be an air ball but was quickly tapped in by Kamera Bozeman with .06 left on the clock. The Lady Bisons quickly inbounded the ball for time to expire and give Harding its 12th straight victory.

Junior guard Montana Lewis led Harding with a season-high 20 points hitting 7-of-9 from the field and two 3-pointers. Senior forward Kristen Celsor scored 16 and freshman guard A'ndrea Haney scored a career-high 12 points also making two 3-pointers. Haney also had a career-high eight assists.

Both teams shot 49 percent from the field. Harding made 25-of-51 and Northwestern Oklahoma made 27-of-55. Both teams made 10 3-pointers as the Rangers hit a season-high.

Johnson and Bozeman both came off the bench for Northwestern Oklahoma. Johnson hit a season-high five 3-pointers and led the Rangers with 18 points and Bozeman went 6-of-7 from the field and finished with 15 points.

Northwestern outrebounded Harding 36-22. It was the fewest the Lady Bisons have grabbed this season.

Harding battled foul trouble throughout the game as three of its starters had three or more fouls for the majority of the second half. Junior forward Arielle Saunders played with four fouls for the final eight minutes of the game.

With the win, Harding tied the 2008-09 squad as that team opened the season 12-0. The Lady Bisons will be looking to tie the best start in program history (1996-97 team) next Thursday as they host Henderson State at 5:30 p.m., at the Rhodes Field House.