Arkansas Tech University used a 13-0 run over the final five minutes of the first half to pull away for a 78-59 Great American Conference men’s basketball victory over the Harding University Bisons at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Monday night.
With the win and the University of Arkansas-Monticello’s 73-58 home loss to Southern Arkansas University, Arkansas Tech climbed within one game of first place in the GAC standings.
The game saw four ties and eight lead changes over the first 15 minutes. The Wonder Boys took the lead for good at 28-26 on a Justin Graham 3-pointer with 5:15 left in the first half.
It was the beginning of the decisive run for Arkansas Tech (18-4 overall, 14-4 GAC), which won its ninth consecutive game and maintained a share of second place in the GAC standings.
“Coach (Prince) Johnson has done a good job with these guys defensively,” said Wonder Boys head coach Chad Kline, speaking of one of his assistant coaches. “If we hold a team to 59 points, I like our chances against anybody. I’m proud of our guys. We had a great crowd tonight.”
Tech added to its 38-26 halftime lead with a 7-0 spurt early in the second half. That gave the Wonder Boys a 50-35 advantage with 12:49 to go, and they went on to lead by as many as 26 points.
ATU forced the Bisons into 17 turnovers and finished with a 22-0 edge in points off turnovers.
Montrell Williams had 19 points, five rebounds and three steals for Tech, while Graham notched 18 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals. Grant Prusator chipped in 12 points.
Tim Wagner scored a team-high 15 points for Harding (13-9, 10-8), which suffered its fourth consecutive loss.
The Wonder Boys will close out the home portion of their 2016-17 regular season when they host the UAM Boll Weevils for a 7:30 p.m. GAC contest at Tucker Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 16.
A win would put Arkansas Tech in a tie for first place in the GAC standings with just three regular season games remaining.