SEARCY, Ark. —
The East Central men’s basketball team saw a 33-point second-half lead cut to eight before holding on for a 93-83 win over Harding Thursday night at a rockin’ Rhodes Field House.
ECU improved to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in Great American Conference play, while the host Bisons fell to 3-5 and 1-1.
“No. 1, we needed a win. But this should give us some confidence that we can go on the road in a hostile environment against a good team and play well. I’m proud of our guys,” said ECU men’s coach Ja Havens.
A 3-pointer by Brandon Lucas — his only triple of the game — gave the Tigers what seemed to be an insurmountable 71-38 lead with 15:35 remaining. Lucas hit a layup a minute later to keep ECU’s advantage, making it 73-40.
However, Harding outscored ECU 40-20 over the final 14:13. Hayden Johnson’s basket from short range trimmed East Central's lead to 87-79 with 47 seconds left before the Tigers managed to salt the game away.
“We knew they were going to make a run at us in the second half, and they did. But give our guys credit. They were able to withstand it ... and make enough free throws down the stretch to hold on. We didn’t panic,” said Havens.
Redshirt freshman A.J. Moutry, who was one of four ECU players with double-digit point totals, had a career-best 21 points, while Lucas added 19 points. Senior Miles Mitchell tallied 18, and senior Colby Carr contributed 15.
Lucas hit 8-of-9 field goal attempts, while Mitchell drained 4-of-6 3-pointers.
East Central shot 62.5 percent from the field and made 10-of-18 3-point shots in the big road win.
The Tigers started the game by building leads of 12-0 and 21-3. ECU led by as many as 29 (39-10) before settling for a 56-33 halftime advantage.
“I’m very proud of our guys' effort. We’ve been talking all week about execution and sharing the ball. We did a good job in the first half of being patient and getting a good look,” Havens said. “Miles Mitchell gave us a huge lift with his ability to shoot the ball. We shot the ball very efficiently.”
Harding got a team-high 19 points from Johnson and 17 points from Tony Cochran.
ECU returned to action Saturday facing Rogers State in Claremore.
Slow start dooms Lady Tigers
SEARCY, Ark. — The East Central University women’s basketball team scored just five points during the first 14 and a half minutes of the game and never recovered from the ugly start in an 81-45 loss to Harding Thursday night at Rhodes Fieldhouse.
Host Harding forged a 30-5 lead to start the game and led 40-15 at halftime. The Lady Tigers shot just 22.2 percent from the field (6-of-22) in the opening 20 minutes and had 12 turnovers.
Harding kept the pressure on in the second half, leading by as many as 41 (81-40) before settling for the 36-point victory.
No ECU player reached double figures, but senior Alycea Price tallied nine points and two rebounds. Freshman Jalyn Jackson didn’t score but pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Lady Tigers finished the game shooting just 26 (16-of-61) percent from the field and 24 (5-of-21) percent from three-point range. Harding had a strong night in both areas, shooting 48 percent overall and from beyond the arc. Turnovers were also an issue, as ECU committed 22 to nine by the Lady Bisons.
Harding got 22 points from Shana Holmes and 16 points from Kristen Celsor.
The Lady Tigers returned to action Saturday, facing Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas.
— Sports Editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.