Bison hit 12 3's to advance in GAC Men's Tournament

BARTLESVILLE, OK ( - 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.

"I'm very proud that this team gets to stick around until Saturday," Morgan said. "That is what this time of year is all about."