ABILENE, TX - Hardin-Simmons’ men’s basketball team claimed a share of the American Southwest Conference West Division title with a thrilling 104-101 victory over Concordia on Thursday night at a rowdy Mabee Complex.
The Cowboys dominated the first half of the game and led by as many as 22 points and Joe Hoeup’s putback at the halftime buzzer gave the Cowboys a 55-36 lead.
HSU pushed the lead out to 74-52 on a Christian O’Neal 3-pointer with 16:01 to play. That is when the Tornados started their comeback. Ephraim Price scored 11 straight points to cut it 77-68. HUS pushed the lead back to 83-68 with 12:14 to play.
Concordia then used a 21-6 run to tie the game on a Joe Neal 3-pointer with 5:57 to play. Caleb Spoon answered with his seventh 3-pointer of the night, which gave him 84 for the season, a new school record.
Price and Ephram then combined to score 12 points in a 12-4 run to give the Tornados their biggest lead of the game at 101-96. Nathaniel Jack then came right back and made a layup and O’Neal hit two free throws after Neal was hit with a technical, which was his fifth foul of the game.
Both teams missed 3-pointers on the ensuing possessions and Justin Jones hit a pair of free throws with 1:06 to play to give the Cowboys a 102-101 lead. After the Tornados could not corral a defensive rebound, Concordia had to foul O’Neal with :11 to play and he hit both free throws and Joshua Samuels 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
Spoon led the balanced HSU attack with 24 and Christian O’Neal had 21. Justin Jones had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Nathaniel Jack added 11 points and a career-best 19 rebounds and Duane Hopper had 13 points.
Price led Concordia with 34 points and Joe Neal added 32.
The teams went into the game with identical records and HSU is 18-6 and 12-3 in conference play and Concordia fell to 17-7 overall and 11-4 in ASC action. The Cowboys will close out the regular season with Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday at 3 p.m.
HSU will honor its seven seniors after the game.
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