In a battle of the fittest, the Reddies began the game with no mercy. Henderson reciprocated the energy from the Bisons’ start in their previous meeting, running off on a familiar 17-5 run to begin the game. Harding would remain dormant but only for a moment. The Bisons diminished the score gap down to three points, 22-19, as the first half progressed.
The comeback put Henderson on their toes and forced them to grind it out the rest of the half. HSU got back up to a 10-point lead at the 4:36 mark following a massive 15-8 run. From then on, it was smooth sailing, with HSU being offensively consistent. Junior guard Damian Dear caught fire, scoring eight points in the last three and a half minutes of the half.
The Reddies’ senior facilitator, Quawn Marshall, and freshman forward Yuri Swinford made huge contributions on both ends of the floor. The hustle and energy went through the roof after Quawn and senior forward Raekwon Rogers, an All-GAC First-Team selection, discouraged the Bisons with an alley-pop connection down the floor.
With 7:25 minutes left in the game, Henderson generated their most significant lead of the night at a monstrous 28 points (81-53). Harding managed to get a few good shots to close the score gap, but Henderson could afford it. They worked hard to maintain the lead, and the winner of the game was never in question.
With two minutes left in the game, head coach Jimmy Elgas subbed out all of the starters and let his other contributors close it out. Junior guards Jaelin Ferrell and Henry Blair attempted to get the score over the century mark. They came within four of it, cementing the Reddies’ victory at 96-76.
The Reddies did an excellent job of sharing the ball, as almost every player had a chance to add to the scoreboard with five players finishing in double digits. HSU guards Xavier Davenport, Damien Dear, and Malik Riddle each ended with 14 points. Yuri Swinford and Jeremiah Toney followed, both having 12 points. Quawn Marshall added nine points and nine assists.
The Reddies, ranked third in the east (10-8, 9-8 GAC) will advance to the quarterfinals Wednesday against Southern Nazarene University at 7:30 p.m., whom they faced in the 2020 GAC Championship game.