BARTLESVILLE – Southeastern let a seven-point second half lead slip away as the Harding Bison went on a 34-13 game-closing run to defeat Savage Storm women’s basketball 77-63 in the Great American Conference championship opener on Thursday.
“We just couldn’t score. We couldn’t buy a bucket in the last 11 minutes of the game,” said Southeastern Coach Darin Grover. “(Harding) became very efficient in their scoring, and I don’t know if it got into our heads or what.”
The loss ends the Savage Storm basketball season with a 10-17 overall record. Senior Bailey Welch led the way with 14 points in her last game.
“Bailey is first class. She is the kind of kid we want as a representation of our program,” Grover said. She finishes third all-time on the school’s list of assist leaders and just missed the rare feat of scoring 1,000 career points.
Non-starter Kayle Reaves also wrapped up her collegiate career. But the good news: Everyone else on the roster has a shot at returning this fall. And Grover has seen a change in this team since the start of the season when they were “basically a bad team.”
“It’s the small victories of us getting better,” he said. “We were a young and inexperienced team. But we became better and better and I felt like by the end of the year we were more competitive.”
Thursday was a prime example: The lower-seeded Storm tied up the Bison 32-32 at the half and led 50-43 nearly midway through the second half before Harding’s improbable comeback.
Harding held a 43-35 rebounding advantage, thanks largely to Arielle Saunders who had 18 boards. The Bison also dished out 19 assists and their defense wasn’t bad either. They tallied nine blocks; Southeastern got none.
Emily Williams scored 12 for the Savage Storm; Cheree Kiser had nine, while Haley Schaefer and Natalie Ruud scored eight each.