Arkansas Tech University moved into a tie for first place in the Great American Conference men’s basketball standings with a 92-86 win over nationally 16th-ranked University of Arkansas-Monticello at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Thursday night.
With the Tech victory, the Wonder Boys (19-4 overall, 15-4 GAC), the Boll Weevils (19-4, 15-4) and the East Central University Tigers (19-6, 15-4) are tied for the top spot in the GAC with three regular season games remaining.
“It feels great,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Chad Kline when asked about earning a share of first place. “It was a battle all night, and I knew it would be. (UAM) is too talented to go away. It was a great way for our seniors to go out in their final home game. We control our own destiny, and that’s all you can ask for this time of year.”
The Wonder Boys led 47-33 at halftime. UA-Monticello whittled its deficit down to 68-66 with 7:49 remaining in the second half, but Arkansas Tech responded with an 11-0 run to claim a 79-66 edge with 3:34 left. Trevin Woods sparked the surge with a 3-pointer and a layup.
“We can score so quickly that if we can ever string three or four stops together in a row, that’s when we go on our runs,” said Kline.
Tech held off the Weevils and earned its 10th consecutive victory by making 11-of-12 free throws over the final 1:36.
Justin Graham finished with season highs of 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Wonder Boys. He was 8-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range, and 9-of-10 at the free throw line.
Tech’s Freddy Lee finished with 16 points and 11 assists, Grant Prusator notched 15 points and Bennie Lufile contributed 12 points.
All five UAM starters reached double figures in scoring, led by Cobe Goosby with 27 points.
The Wonder Boys will take on the Henderson State University Reddies at the Duke Wells Center in Arkadelphia at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. It will be the first of three consecutive road games to conclude the 2016-17 regular season for ATU.
Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.