by Ryan York, Staff Writer
February 26, 2021
Ouachita’s basketball teams faced off against the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) in a doubleheader on Feb. 25. It was also Senior Night for the Tigers, and the teams honored Eden Crow, Maija Gertsone, Larenz Nero, Kendarious (KD) Smith and Matt Stanley in between the games.
The women started off the night with a resounding victory over the Cotton Blossoms, winning 77-51. Senior forward Eden Crow led the charge, scoring 23 points in her final home game of the regular season. However, the men’s game was much closer. The Tigers lost 55-52, and senior forward Matt Stanley scored the most points, with a total of 13. Senior guard KD Smith was right behind Stanley, scoring 12 points.
In the first quarter of the women’s game, the Tigers were a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball. They held UAM to only nine points and managed to get two steals. With all of their defensive stops, the Tigers were able to go on the offensive and create a double-digit lead of 13 points. Ouachita was shooting 50% from the field, while UAM only shot 20%. At the end of the first quarter, Ouachita was ahead 22-9. In each successive quarter, Ouachita continued to outscore UAM. The Tigers allowed no chance for the Cotton Blossoms to make a comeback.
When the women’s game was over, both teams celebrated their seniors. After a tough season last year and a delayed start to this year’s season, Crow and Gertsone have led the Tigers well this year. Just in this game, they led the team in scoring, with a combined 35 points out of Ouachita’s 77. Crow had eight rebounds and shot 83% from the free throw line, while Gertsone had six rebounds and three assists.
For the men’s seniors, the game may not have had the outcome they wanted, but all three have had good careers at Ouachita. Larenz Nero came in last year as a solid player and he put up an all-around good effort in last night’s game. In Monday night’s game against Henderson State, Smith scored his one-thousandth career point and he had the highest free throw percentage against UAM. After an injury last season, Stanley returned to play at the start of this season and led the team in scoring during the match-up against the Boll Weevils. All three have been leaders on the team and have fought hard in every game this season.
Defense was the deciding factor of the men’s game against UAM, though. The Boll Weevils totaled seven steals and three blocks, while the Tigers had five steals and two blocks. Percentage-wise, the game was fairly even, with both teams shooting just over 36% from the field. Even though it was a close game, the Tigers could not keep up with UAM defensively.
Ouachita began to close in on UAM’s lead in the final few minutes of the game. Smith and Stanley put up a good fight, adding to their scoring totals. Sophomore Leon Kalinic got a rebound with 17 seconds left to play, but the Boll Weevils’ defense pushed Ouachita to run down the clock. The final shot of the game was a three-point attempt from junior Ma’Darius Hobson that missed at the buzzer.
Both teams will play against Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Ark., on Feb. 27. There are a lot of different factors in this year’s playoff picture, but the women are currently ranked no. 4 in the Great American Conference’s Eastern Division and the men are ranked no. 5.
A win against the Golden Suns (ranked no. 1) would mean that the women might get a bye week or they would face off against UAM (ranked no. 6). A loss to Arkansas Tech would set the Tigers up to take on Southern Arkansas University in the first round of the playoffs on Monday.
The men’s team is ranked right above the Wonder Boys, so a win could allow them to keep their ranking or move up a spot (if Harding were to lose against SAU). Either way, they would face the Bisons. If the men lose, they would drop to last place in the rankings and would take on Henderson on March 1.
The playoffs start Monday, March 1. The semifinals will be on Friday, March 5, and the championship games will be Sunday, March 7. For more about the Tigers’ schedules, visit obutigers.com.