HU Women’s Basketball Returns Home to Host Henderson State

Courtesy Harding University Athletics Department

SEARCY – The Harding women’s basketball team returns home on Thursday after a three game road trip as they host Henderson State at 5:30 p.m., in Great American Conference action at the Rhodes Field House. The Lady Bisons head into the game with a 13-7 overall record and a 9-5 GAC record.

With six conference games left, Harding is in fifth place in the GAC standings. The top eight teams in the conference will advance to the tournament on March 7-10 in Bartlesville, Okla. Northwestern Oklahoma State and Southern Nazarene are not eligible for the tournament due to their provisional membership status with the league.

The Lady Bisons are glad to be home after their trips to Oklahoma. HU was 1-2 on the road trip as they fell to Southern Nazarene 66-56, defeated Northwestern Oklahoma State 74-55 and fell to Southwestern Oklahoma State 84-69.

Harding is 8-1 at home this season. HU’s only loss came against Arkansas Tech 50-43. In those nine games, Harding is outscoring their opponents by 13.1 points, holding their opponents to shooting 33.4 percent, outrebounding their opponent by 7.8 rebounds, averaging 9.4 steals and 4.5 blocks. Junior forward Kristen Celsor is shooting 52.7 percent from the field at home and averaging 16.6 points. Sophomore forward Arielle Saunders averages a double-double at with 12.7 points and 11.3 rebounds.

When the two teams met earlier this season in Arkadelphia, the Lady Bisons defeated Henderson State 57-56. Arielle Saunders made two free throws with 14 seconds left to give Harding the lead. Senior guard Deshelle Isaac-Boyce blocked HSU’s shot at the buzzer to give HU the win. Saunders led the Lady Bisons with 18 points, hitting 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Henderson State leads the series 23-22.

Harding has won 10 of their last 13 games with their losses coming against Arkansas Tech, Southern Nazarene and Southwestern Oklahoma State.

HU is led on the season by Kristen Ceslor who averages 14.7 points, which ranks seventh in the GAC. Sophomore guard Shana Holmes averages 13.3 points and Arielle Saunders averages 11.0 points.

Arielle Saunders leads Harding on the boards averaging 8.2 rebounds per game, which ranks fourth in the GAC. Kristen Celsor ranks sixth in the GAC (8.0 rpg) and sophomore guard Montana Lewis ranks ninth in the GAC (7.1 rpg).

Harding has grabbed 40 or more rebounds in a game eleven times this season. HU’s record in those games is 9-2. The Lady Bisons have won their last eight straight games when they grab 40 or more rebounds.

Harding has had over 10 steals in a game six times this season. HU went onto win four of those games.

When Harding has 15 or fewer turnovers in a game, the Lady Bisons are 9-2. Harding has had less than 10 turnovers in a game three times this season. HU went onto win all of those games.

The Lady Bisons rank first in the GAC in scoring defense as they only allow their opponents to score 59.6 points per game. HU ranks second in the GAC in steals averaging 9.1 a game.

Harding is getting to the free throw line 21.1 times a game. HU is 7-1 when they make 15 or more free throws in a game. The Lady Bisons are 3-1 when shooting over 75 percent.

Henderson State heads into Thursday with a 10-10 overall record and a 5-9 GAC record. HSU has lost their last three games. The Lady Reddies are coming off a 65-53 loss to Southern Nazarene last Thursday. Henderson State’s last win came against Arkansas-Monticello (70-63) on Jan. 26.

The Lady Reddies rank second in the GAC in rebounding margin as they average 4.0 more rebounds than their opponent.

Henderson State is led by junior guard Krystal Beachum who averages 14.5 points per game which ranks eighth in the GAC. Senior forward Destiny Smith ranks second in the GAC in rebounding averaging 11.2 a game. Smith also ranks first in the GAC in field goal percentage (59.3).

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