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Lienhard named top defender, joins Box on All-Heartland list

Oklahoma Christian University’s tradition of “defensive dominance” continued Wednesday as senior center Will Lienhard was named the Heartland Conference’s men’s basketball co-defensive player of the year at a ceremony March 6, the evening before the start of the Heartland Conference tournament.

Lienhard also received honorable mention on the All-Heartland list, joining teammate Jordan Box, who was a second-team selection by league coaches. This marks the first time since the 2012-13 season, when Will Reinke and Kendre Talley both made the All-Heartland teams, that two Oklahoma Christian players received All-Heartland honors in the same season.

Lienhard, a 6-foot-8 senior out of Bishop McGuinness High School in Oklahoma City, emerged this season as “one of NCAA Division II’s top rebounders and defenders.” Lienhard led the nation for most of the season – and is No. 2 currently – in rebounds per game at 12.5. He’s one of only two Division II players this season to have multiple 20-rebound games, as he grabbed 21 boards three times.

He set the Heartland’s single-season rebounding record – 338 and counting – and has 21 double-digit rebound games this season.

Additionally, he ranks ninth in Division II in blocks per game (2.52) and eighth in total blocks (68). The latter total ranks fourth on the Heartland’s all-time single-season list, behind Reinke (82 in 2012-13) and former OC standout John Moon (73 in 2016-17 and 70 in 2015-16). Moon was the Heartland’s defensive player of the year each of those seasons.

In only two seasons at Oklahoma Christian, Lienhard has 125 blocks, sixth on the Heartland’s career list, and he alone had more blocks this season than three Heartland teams.

Lienhard also ranks 12th in the Heartland in assists at 2.5 per game and averages 8.4 points per game.

“Will is a flat-out special kid who impacts a game on the glass and defensively,” Head Coach Cory Cole said. “He is a total team guy and doesn’t take plays off. He has developed into one of the league’s best bigs, takes pride in rebounding and has a special feel for the ball.”

Box, a 5-foot-10 senior guard from McKinney, TX, developed into one of the Heartland’s top shooters during his five seasons at Oklahoma Christian, one of which was cut short by a knee injury. This season, he ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 16.3 points per game, third in 3-point percentage (41.7) and eighth in overall field-goal percentage (42.0).

Box posted 22 double-digit scoring performances in 26 games this season for the Eagles.

“Jordan is one of the most reliable shooters in the league and has paid his dues,” Cole said. “He sacrificed and put in extra time this past summer and pushed himself to be in this position. I’m proud to see him recognized.”

The information above comes from an Oklahoma Christian Sports Information Office press release.

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