FAYETTEVILLE -- Collin Cooper understands the importance of winning at home in the 7A-West Conference. He made sure his team got the message.
Cooper led a late fourth-quarter rally to help carry Fayetteville to a 67-65 win against Springdale Har-Ber in Bulldog Arena on Friday. The Bulldogs overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 2 minutes to knock Har-Ber out of sole possession of first place in the conference.
"This is probably the biggest game of the year for us," Cooper said. "At home, we have to hold it down here. We did whatever we needed to do to come up with the win."
Cooper scored a game-high 28 points that included four 3-pointers, but it was his clutch free throws down the stretch that proved the difference.
Har-Ber appeared in control when Tylor Perry, who scored 24 points, knocked down a corner 3-pointer with just over two minutes left to give the Wildcats (14-4, 3-1 7A-West) a 62-55 lead. But the Bulldogs (10-6, 3-1) scored the next seven points to tie the game at 62-62 when Cooper scored inside and drew a foul with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left. Cooper's free throw completed the three-point play.
Har-Ber answered back when Tyler Garrett, who scored 22, drained a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats back the lead at 65-62, but Har-Ber did not score again. Frank Morgan, Darius Bowers, and Cooper combined for five free throws in the final 1:35.
The Wildcats had the ball with 22.9 seconds left but dribbled down the clock until Perry forced up a 3-pointer with under five seconds left that missed the mark.
"We've played a really tough schedule this year," Fayetteville coach Kyle Adams said. "I think our kids have been in these situations before, and when we called timeout and they came to the bench, there was no doubt in their mind that they were going to do this."
As the fourth quarter opened, it appeared it was Fayetteville in control as Cooper drew a foul on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all three free throws for a 50-45 lead. But Har-Ber clawed back in the game behind Perry and Garrett, who led a 17-5 run. Garrett, who eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark in the loss, scored seven points in the run.
"You get down seven to really good teams -- a team that I think is one of the best in Arkansas -- to be able to come back and do the things we did, I'm really proud of our kids," Adams said.
With the win, Fayetteville moved into a four-way logjam atop the league standings heading into a big home game Tuesday night against Springdale High.
Cooper said the team would have to put this game away quickly and focus on the next one.
"We just have to keep playing with the same intensity we've been playing with these past two games," Cooper said. "As long as we do that, we can win the rest of our games."
Fayetteville 67, Springdale Har-Ber 65
Har-Ber 9 20 16 20 -- 65
Fayetteville 13 16 18 20 -- 67
Har-Ber (14-4, 3-1): Perry 24, T. Garrett 22, Peck 11, A. Garrett 4, Ragsdale 2, Ezell 2.
Fayetteville (10-6, 3-1): Cooper 28, Morgan 14, Bowers 7, Johnson 6, Conley 4, Gibbs 4, Schach 2, Witte 2.
Fayetteville 49, Springdale Har-Ber 32
The Lady Bulldogs raced to a 9-0 lead and were never threatened in earning their fourth straight blowout win in conference play.
Fayetteville (12-3, 4-0 7A-West) got 11 points from sophomore forward Sasha Goforth in the first half. Goforth finished with a game-high 18. Her 3-pointer from the left corner gave Fayetteville a 16-5 lead with 50 seconds left in the first half.
Har-Ber did not score more than 9 points in any quarter and shot just 26 percent from the floor.
"Defensively, I thought we played the first half really well and that gave us a lot of energy," Fayetteville coach Vic Rimmer said. "We didn't shoot the ball great, but we got some easy buckets because Jaz (Franklin) caused a lot of problems inside."
Franklin scored 11 points and blocked 5 shots. She probably altered twice that many.
Coriah Beck scored 13 for Fayetteville. Savannah Collins led Har-Ber (8-10, 0-4) with 10 points.
Har-Ber 7 7 9 9 -- 32
Fayetteville 18 13 9 9 -- 49
Har-Ber (8-10, 0-4): Collins 10, Shannon 7, Smith 6, Taylor 3, Wood 2, Mains 2, Nelson 2.
Fayetteville (12-3, 4-0): Goforth 18, Beck 13, Franklin 11, Unruh 3, Bobbitt 2, Hall 2.Preps Basketball on 01/20/2018
Print Headline: Basketball: Cooper leads Fayetteville to big home win