BARTLESVILLE, OK (HardingSports.com) - Harding senior Hayden Johnson scored 24 points and senior Weston Jameson had 17 points and a career-high 11 assists to lead the Bisons to a 77-65 victory over East Central on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Great American Conference Tournament.
Harding (13-14) entered the game on a five-game skid but the losses came by a total of only 13 points. The Bisons, the No. 5 seed, made 12 3-pointers and will meet No. 1 seed Arkansas Tech on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. in the semifinals.
East Central, making its first trip to the GAC Tournament, had its season end with a 15-12 record.
"This team has a great spirit of togetherness, and that is what it is all about," Harding head coach Jeff Morgan said.
Harding shot the ball well early and made eight 3-pointers in the first half. East Central shot 48 percent in the half but trailed 40-29 at halftime.
The Bisons made only nine field goals in the second half, four of them 3-pointers, but connected on 15-of-21 free throws.
A 3-pointer by Harding's Jacob Gibson with 15:30 left gave the Bisons a 16-point lead at 53-37. East Central went on a 10-1 run and closed the gap to 54-47 with 13:22 remaining. A 12-2 Harding run, capped by Jameson's 3-pointer with 6:13 left put the Bisons back up by 16 at 65-49. East Central got no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Jameson was 4-for-6 from 3-point range and recorded his first career double-double. His 11 assists tied the GAC Tournament record.
"Weston called a great game offensively and looked for his moments to attack the paint," Morgan said.
Johnson was 9-of-16 from the field and 4-of-7 from the free throw line. GAC Freshman of the Year Will Francis scored 14 points and had five rebounds, and sophomore Blake McNair had 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Henry Pwono led East Central with 27 points and 13 rebounds.