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No. 8 seed Harding mades its fifth appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament after winning the Great American Conference Tournament in Bartlesville, Okla., defeating No. 4 seed East Central (77-65), No. 1 seed Arkansas Tech (83-64), and No. 6 Henderson State (93-86, 2ot) to win its first GAC Tournament title and earning the conference's first automatic berth

No. 8 seed Harding made its fifth appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament after winning the Great American Conference Tournament in Bartlesville, Okla., defeating No. 4 seed East Central, No. 1 seed Arkansas Tech (pictured), and No. 6 Henderson State to win its first GAC Tournament title and earn the conference’s first automatic berth.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams both advanced to the NCAA postseason tournament last week. It was the first time both teams made the tournament in the same year. It was also the first time the Lady Bisons have ever played in the tournament. On Friday, the women’s team fell to Concordia-St. Paul 68-57 in Searcy. Arielle Saunders led the Lady Bisons with 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. She also had three blocks. The Lady Bisons finished their record-breaking season with a 29-3 record. The men’s team fell to No. 1 seed Minnesota State-Mankato 97-56 on Saturday. The Bisons were led by Hayden Johnson who had 19 points. The men’s team received the Great American Conference’s first automatic bid after beating Henderson State 93-86 in the finals of the conference tournament. The men finished their season with a 15-15 record.

Elsewhere …

  • For men’s baseball, Chris Hardey lined a bases-loaded single up the middle to score Victor Guerra with the winning run in the Bisons’ 5-4 11-inning victory over No. 3 Southern Arkansas Saturday at Jerry Moore Field. With the victory, Harding (16-8, 8-4 GAC) won the series over Southern Arkansas (21-6, 10-5) two games to one. It was the first time since 2004 that the Bisons have won two games in a season over a team ranked in the top five nationally. The Bisons also defeated Central Baptist Tuesday, March 11, 7-6.
  • The Harding men’s golf team posted its third-best score of the season, and they finished fourth of 17 teams at the Dave Falconer Memorial Invitational, played Monday and Tuesday at Chamberlyne Country Club in Danville, Ark. Harding shot 299 in the first round and improved to 293 in the final round to finish at 16-over 592.
  • In women’s golf, junior Brittany Marquez put together her second solid round and placed fourth of 36 golfers at the Southwest Minnesota State Spring Invitational played Thursday and Friday at the LPGA International Hills Legends Course. Marquez has finished in the top five in three of the five events she has played in her junior season.
  • Southern Arkansas won all four games against the Lady Bisons softball team this past weekend. Carolyn Clayton led Harding on the weekend, hitting .400 with four hits, including a homerun. The Lady Bisons also split with Delta State last Tuesday in a non-conference doubleheader at the Harding Softball Field.
  • In women’s indoor track, Harding junior Ewa Zaborowska earned All-America honors for the second-straight season by finishing eighth in the mile at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday. Zaborowska, who qualified ninth, moved up one spot in the final with a time of 4 minutes, 57.83 seconds. She became only the fifth Lady Bison to earn multiple All-America honors indoors.
  • A quartet of Harding athletes on the men’s outdoor track team opened the 2014 outdoor track and field season Saturday at the Rhodes Open in Memphis, Tenn. Senior Andrew Evans defeated six other competitors to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9 minutes, 33.47 seconds. It was Evans’ fourth career event victory in the steeplechase and his second in four career races at Rhodes.

This week’s schedule: (Home games in bold)

Tuesday, March 18

  • Baseball vs. Delta State, 2 p.m.
  • Women’s tennis vs. Henderson State, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, March 19

  • Men’s and women’s tennis at Lane College, 2 p.m.

Friday, March 21

  • Softball doubleheader vs. University of Arkansas-Monticello, 2 p.m.
  • Baseball at Arkansas-Monticello, 2 p.m.
  • Men’s and women’s track at UCA Relays

Satuday, March 22

  • Softball doubleheader vs. University of Arkansas-Monticello, 12 p.m.
  • Baseball doubleheader at University of Arkansas-Monticello, 12 p.m.
  • Men’s and women’s track at UCA Relays

Remember to check HardingSports.com for all the latest information on your Bisons and Lady Bisons.

Nathan Looney, assistant sports information director

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Senior Night.IMG_1787My wife and I walked across the basketball court with our daughter between us Tuesday night as Searcy High held Senior Night. Amazingly, no tears were shed!

Tonight we head to the Rhodes for the Lady Bison and Bison basketball Senior Night games against Arkansas Tech. The No. 3 ranked Lady Bisons will put their 25-1 record on the line. A victory tonight ties them for the most wins in program history (1996-97).

I’ve had the privilege of watching two of the six Lady Bison seniors play since their days at Searcy High, Kristen Celsor and Lauren Harrison. It also has been fun to see these two sweet Christian ladies become engaged to the two seniors on the men’s team, Kristen to Hayden Johnson and Lauren to Weston Jameson.

Four other Lady Bison seniors, Lauren Crenshaw, Deshelle Isaac-Boyce, Katy Preaus and Tanja Steed, will play their last home regular season game tonight.

My inside track on the Rowdies tells me there is going to be an interesting matchup during halftime of the men’s game you won’t want to miss if you are in the area.

The senior Lady Bisons will be honored after the girls’ game and the senior Bisons, cheerleaders and Rowdies will be recognized Harding style after the men’s game. There may even be a few tears.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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Lady Bison basketball

The women’s basketball team captured their first conference regular season championship in school history Thursday, Feb. 20, with their 67-39 win at Southern Arkansas University. The fourth-ranked Lady Bisons are 25-1 overall and 17-1 in the Great American Conference. The Lady Bisons were led by senior Kristen Celsor who had 32 points and 10 rebounds against Southern Arkansas. It was the fifth time this season Celsor has scored more than 30 points in a game, which tied Kymm Alexander (1990-94) and Angie Dugger (1993-97) for the most in a season by a Harding player. Alexander holds the record for the most in her career with 11. Dugger had 10, and Celsor has six. The Lady Bisons also won Saturday defeating Arkansas-Monticello at Rhodes Field House 84-54. Celsor again led Harding with 21 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds. Harding looks to top its 16-game home winning streak on Senior Night Thursday, hosting Arkansas Tech at 5:30 p.m. in Rhodes Field House. The Lady Bisons have won 16 straight dating back to last season.

Elsewhere …

  • Men’s golf finished 14th at the San Antonio Shoot-Out hosted by Oklahoma Christian Tuesday, Feb 18. It was their first tournament of the season.
  • Men’s basketball (12-12 overall, 9-9 GAC) fell 81-77 at Southern Arkansas University Thursday, Feb. 20, and fell 72-70 to University of Arkansas-Monticello Saturday, Feb. 22. Harding is currently in sixth place in GAC standings.
  • Women’s tennis (3-1) won 9-0 at LeMoyne-Owen College Friday, Feb. 21, and won 9-0 at Delta State University Saturday, Feb. 22.
  • The Lady Bisons softball team (9-4 overall, 3-1 GAC) split a doubleheader with Southern Nazarene University Friday, Feb. 21, winning 4-2 in the first game before falling 8-4 in the second. The Lady Bisons swept the Crimson Storm Saturday winning 5-3 and 2-0. It was Harding’s first games in Searcy as members of the NCAA.
  • The baseball team (8-4 overall, 2-1 GAC) opened the series at Southern Nazarene with a 25-9 win. Harding’s 25 runs scored tied a GAC record for the most in a game. The teams split on Saturday as Southern Nazarene won the first game of the doubleheader 7-6, but the Bisons bounced back and won the second game 6-4 to give them the series win.

This week’s schedule: (Home games in bold)

Monday, Feb. 24

  • Men’s and women’s tennis at University of Missouri-St. Louis

Tuesday, Feb. 25

  • Baseball doubleheader at Henderson State, noon
  • Softball doubleheader at Christian Brothers, 1 p.m.
  • Men’s and women’s tennis at Lindenwood, 2 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

  • Men’s and women’s basketball vs. Arkansas Tech, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

  • Softball doubleheader at Southeastern Oklahoma, 1 p.m.
  • Men’s and women’s tennis at Southwest Baptist, 1 p.m.
  • Baseball vs. Southeastern Oklahoma, 2 p.m.

Saturday, March 1

  • Softball doubleheader at Southeastern Oklahoma, 11 a.m.
  • Men’s and women’s basketball at Southeastern Oklahoma, noon
  • Baseball doubleheader vs. Southeastern Oklahoma, noon
  • Men’s and women’s tennis at Drury, noon
  • Men’s and women’s track at Indoor Lone Star Conference Meet in Lubbock, Texas

Sunday, March 2

  • Men’s and women’s track at Indoor Lone Star Conference Meet in Lubbock, Texas

Remember to check HardingSports.com for all the latest information on your Bisons and Lady Bisons.

Nathan Looney, assistant sports information director

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There’s excitement on campus this cold, gloomy 25th day of February and for good reason.

Harding’s Rhodes Memorial Field House is officially “The Best Road Trip Destination in College Basketball” presented by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, beating out powerhouses Indiana University and University of Arizona as well as seven other Division I schools.

An in-depth feature will be filmed at the last home game this Saturday against Southeastern Oklahoma State University on what makes the Rhodes Field House, the campus and the town of Searcy a special place for any basketball fan to visit. It will air on “GEICO Best of College Basketball” at 12 p.m., April 6 on CBS Sports. It was announced today the game will be ticketed.

It is exciting to know others will soon have the chance to see what we have known at Harding for years. In our latest magazine, Michael Claxton, assistant professor of English and a convert to Bison basketball, stated, “To say that the atmosphere inside Rhodes Field House is intense is an understatement — it has the qualities of a carnival, an Olympic event and a cage match all combined.”

And soon everyone will have the chance to see what Log Cabin Democrat sports writer David McCollum knew way back in 2004 when he said, “Viewing Harding’s men playing a big basketball game at Rhodes is becoming a ‘must-see-at-least-once’ Arkansas experience, whether a spectator has a connection with the school or not.”

Look for the Rhodes Rowdies to be out in force Saturday.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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The song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

Last night on campus certainly showed the truth of that line with friends and fellowship in abundance.

There was a “party for hosting” as the Christmas Open House, with live music and so much food to taste supper could be forgotten, has become an anticipated annual tradition. Carriage rides around the quadrangle amid the beautiful lights and decorations were a hit with many.

After the merriment, it was time for another tradition — winning the men’s basketball home opener. The Bisons handily beat Champion Baptist College 92-60, keeping the streak alive for the 36th year.

Another part of the game will be included in author Stan Beck’s upcoming book on college traditions. Beck was on hand last evening to witness the University’s a cappella rendition of the national anthem. In an interview with the Daily Citizen, Beck said, “Harding’s a cappella national anthem is one of my favorite traditions so far. The patriotism affects me, and the thing about Harding’s a cappella anthem is that it comes from the heart.”

As the song continues, “hearts will be glowing.” They were last evening.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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