Lady Dawgs hold off Harding in closing minutes

SWOSU Athletics
Doug Self, Sports Information Director

SEARCY, Ark. – Hayden Priddy scored six points in the final minute of #10/5-ranked SWOSU’s 74-64 victory over Harding on Thursday evening, including a dagger three-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 50 seconds remaining that gave the Lady Bulldogs a two-score lead.

After trailing in the early going, including down 19-17 at the end of the first quarter, SWOSU took the lead on a three-pointer by Maddie Sperle early in the second. The Lady Bulldogs led for the majority of the rest of the game, going up by 13 with 7:15 to play after Tyra Aska knocked down a short jump shot in the lane. Harding rallied in the final minutes, getting the deficit down to five with 1:30 to play before converting a  SWOSU turnover into a three-pointer with 1:14 to play that made it 66-64.

SWOSU’s ensuing possession was far from a work of art, but the end result was effective as Priddy knocked down the dagger three-pointer right in front of the Lady Bulldog bench to make it 69-64. That jump started an 8-0 run by the Lady Bulldogs that included 5-of-6 free throw shooting in the final minute as they pulled away for the 10-point victory.

Hailey Tucker led the Lady Dawgs with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and a steal while playing all 40 minutes on Thursday night. The return of Bethany Franks – who missed the first meeting against Harding – was welcome for SWOSU, who was badly outrebounded by the Lady Bisons in Weatherford. Franks knocked down several jump shots and 3-of-4 free throws to finish with 15 points, five rebounds and an astounding seven steals as she helped SWOSU force 21 turnovers by Harding.

Priddy, who battled foul trouble throughout the game, came through in the clutch to finish with 11 points, three assists and two steals while Aska chipped in eight points and nine rebounds. Maddie Sperle, who scored a career-high 18 points in the first meeting with Harding, added nine points and two rebounds in 16 minutes of action off the bench.

“We knew that coming to Harding was going to be a great basketball environment and they’re a very tough team to play, especially in this building,” SWOSU Head Coach Kelsi Musick said. “Bethany was a difference maker for us at both ends of the floor and Hayden made the timely shot we need at the end to help win the game. We definitely needed this game so we could fight through some mistakes, but still make the plays we needed at the end to get the win.”

With the win, SWOSU improves to 26-1 on the year and 21-0 in Great American Conference play with one game remaining in the regular season. The Lady Bulldogs conclude conference play on Saturday afternoon in Russellville against Arkansas Tech.