The Lady Bisons jumped out to a 13-2 lead to open the first half and then allowed Harding to get back into the game. With 5:14 left in the first half Harding led 31-30. They would lead two more times in the final five minutes before the Lady Bisons closed out the half with an 8-4 run to take a 41-38 lead at intermission.
“In the first half I thought we were a little bit sluggish,” said Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett. “We had a decent tempo, but we were still giving them a lot of good shots. Thirty-eight points in a half is way more than what we want to give up.
“We didn’t have the energy pushing the ball on the offensive end. We didn’t have the consistency that I like to see there. It wasn’t a terrible effort in the first half. Three or four players would be into a possession, but one or two wouldn’t be. It was different people at different times.”
In the second half the Lady Bisons started out quickly outscoring Harding 12-0 in the first four minutes. The Lady Bisons were never seriously challenged by Harding in the second half, leading by a game-high 24 points at 70-46 with 10:16 left to play.
“We had a great start in the second half,” said Bennett. “We were more consistent in the second half. We had more of a sustained effort. In the second half I thought we had the whole team into it most of the time. And that is hard to do sometimes.”
Guard Jenna Bartsokas led a balanced Lady Bisons offensive attack with 15 points. Also in double figures were forward Jilian Partin and guard Anna Bowers with 12 points each, guard Toia McGowan with 11 and forward Cree Nix with 10.
“I like that balance,” said Bennett. “We have some weapons both inside and out.”
Partin led the Lady Bisons in rebounding with seven.
The Lady Bisons out-rebounded Harding 42-35.
The Lady Bisons went to the free throw line for 30 shots, hitting 19. Harding had only 11 attempts, hitting seven.
“We did a nice job keeping them off the foul line,” said Bennett. “Our goal is to make more free throws than the opponent attempts and we did that by a considerable margin.”
The Lady Bisons also made 16 steals with Bartsokas making a game-high six and Partin adding five.
The Lady Bisons shot 44.6 percent from the field (29-of-65) and 41.2 percent from 3-point range (seven-of-17).
Harding forward Stacey Owens scored a game-high 21 points. Makala McNair added 15.
Owens also led in rebounding with a game-high eight boards.
The Lady Bisons finished the exhibition part of the schedule 2-0, including an 82-69 win over Alabama-Huntsville Thursday night.
Bennett has a young team overall, but his starting line-up for the two exhibitions with sophomores Miaca Bowman and Bartsokas at the guard spots, sophomore Nix at one forward spot, senior Partin at the other forward spot and senior Katie Rollins in the post.
“The first five gives us an experienced group in there,” said Bennett. “We have a little less experience when we substitute, but there is not lot of drop off. We had some players past the first nine do a much better job like Chelsea Burroughs, Leah McAlister and Clair Waggener. They got the nerves out of the way in the first exhibition.”
The Lady Bisons open the regular season Saturday night in Clarksville when they visit Austin Peay at 7.