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Bison Win NAIA Opener

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Kansas City, MO -

Oklahoma Baptist forced 17 first-half turnovers and claimed an 83-73 win over Arizona Christian in the first round of the NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Championships Thursday.

The 25-7 Bison play at 8 p.m., Friday, against Cal State-San Marcos or MidAmerica Nazarene.

OBU never trailed and point guard Kendall Parks jump started the Bison with four points, two rebounds and a steal in the first 90 seconds for a 4-0 lead.

The Firestorm tied the game at 6-6 but the Bison put together a 17-5 run to go up 23-11 seven minutes into the game with guard David Johnson contributing seven points to the spree.

OBU connected for nine of its first 11 shots in the game – most of those jump shots. The Bison got the lead to 18 points, 50-32, with 2:20 left in the first half, but ACU finished the half on a 6-0 run to make it a 50-38 halftime contest.

"Having 17 turnovers in the first half is just too much to spot a team like Oklahoma Baptist," said ACU Coach Jeff Rutter. "They are as good a program, maybe the best program in the NAIA and our guys were a little undersized but we battled."

The Firestorm got as close as nine early in the second half, but the Bison went to work attacking the ACU zone and built the lead to 61-44 on an 9-1 run with 14:45 to play.

"I thought we did a good job attacking inside – a much better job in the second half – of getting inside and not always scoring, but getting to the free throw line," said OBU Coach Doug Tolin. "I thought we relied on jump shots in the first half."

OBU saw the lead slim to 70-62 with 6:27 to play, but the Bison had an answer for every challenge from there.

"I was concerned about the turnovers in the second half, especially the ones early in the shot clock. But defensively, we played well. It was a good win. We get to stay and play," Tolin said.

Johnson led the Bison with 18 points while forward Clinton Houston added 17, hitting nine of 11 free throws.

"The key was attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. We knew that would be the key against them," said Houston. "First game you just have to play hard and stick to the gameplan. Survive and advance."

Marques Anderson had 13 points and Parks added 10 to go with his eight assists.

ACU's Talib Uqdah, coming off a 40-point game in the Golden State Athletic Conference championship game, led the Firestorm with 18 points.

"Kendal did a great job defensively on Uqdah," Tolin said. "He got into him and made him bounce the ball, but you can see from a lot of those shots how he scores so many points. He's really good."

OBU was out-rebounded 37-29 despite a seven-rebound performance by Johnson.

The Bison shot 50 percent from the field for the game.

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