HONOLULU — With leading scorer and rebounder Zach Roddenberry in foul trouble most of the game, Harding turned to its bench and a pair of freshman sharpshooters to upset 10th-ranked Northwest Missouri State 68-66 on Sunday at the Oahu Classic.
Harding improved to 7-2. Harding’s last victory against a top-10 team was a 65-63 win against second-ranked Alabama-Huntsville last season.
Northwest Missouri State dropped to 8-2 overall and lost both of its games at the Oahu Classic. The Bearcats fell 59-50 to St. Edward’s on Saturday.
Harding freshmen Andraz Kavas and Tony Cochran both made four 3-pointers, and the Bisons connected on 13 3-pointers. Harding shot 56.5 percent from 3-point range, and made only 10-of-24 from inside the arc.
The Bisons led the game throughout but had to withstand a frantic final possession from Northwest Missouri to hang on to the victory.
Harding junior Weston Jameson made the second of two free throws with 14 seconds remaining to give the Bisons a 68-66 lead. Bearcat forward Dillon Starzl missed a potential game-tying jumper with five seconds left, but DeAngelo Hailey grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled by Jameson.
Hailey missed both free throws, but again Northwest Missouri’s Matt Wallace grabbed the rebound and attempted a 3-pointer that Harding’s Hayden Johnson blocked as time expired.
Harding made 9-of-15 3-pointers in the first half and led 46-37 at halftime. Johnson converted on an and-1 opportunity at the 15:59 mark of the second half, but they were the Bisons’ only points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Bearcats’ 10-3 run to open the half trimmed Harding’s lead to 49-47. Harding freshman Nash Nelson ended the stretch with another 3-pointer.
Northwest Missouri cut the Harding lead to two points on two other occasions in the second half, but both times Harding answered with 3-pointers, one from Kavas and another from Johnson.
Kavas was 4-of-6 from 3-point range and led Harding in scoring for the first time this season with 15 points. Cochran made all four of his 3-point attempts and had 14 points. Johnson was Harding’s only starter in double figures with 12 points. Senior Adam Sterrenberg scored 10 points off the bench. Roddenberry had only two points and three rebounds and fouled out in 12 minutes of action.
Harding’s reserves scored 46 points, the third time this season the Bisons’ bench eclipsed 40 points in a game.
Hailey led Northwest Missouri with 24 points.