Big Defensive Plays Late Lift Tech 90-86

Two blocked shots by Bennie Lufile in the final 18 seconds helped Arkansas Tech University hold off Southern Nazarene University 90-86 in Great American Conference men’s basketball at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Thursday night.

With the victory, the Wonder Boys (14-4 overall, 10-4 GAC) extended their winning streak to five games and moved into a tie for second place in the GAC standings with eight regular season league games remaining.

Arkansas Tech took the lead for good on an Alex Brown layup with 1:06 remaining. The 24th and final lead change of the game put the Wonder Boys in front 85-84.

Following a Southern Nazarene turnover, Tech’s Justin Graham made two free throws with 23.2 seconds showing to increase the spread to 87-84.

Lufile took over from there, blocking Crimson Storm layup attempts with 18 and 11 seconds left. The Wonder Boys made 3-of-4 free throws over the final 17.4 seconds to seal the victory.

“That was just a player making plays,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Chad Kline when asked about Lufile’s blocked shots. “Bennie broke off script and went to block the shot. I thought at times we played good, and at times we played bad. We were lucky to win. It’s always nice to avenge a loss.”

Southern Nazarene defeated the Wonder Boys 90-83 in Bethany, Okla., on Dec. 3. The home team has now won the last seven meetings in the series.

Graham notched 22 points and seven assists. Tech’s Trevin Woods scored a season-high 19 points. Lufile finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Freddy Lee contributed 13 points and five assists.

LB Willis scored a team-high 21 points for the Crimson Storm (10-9, 7-6).

The Wonder Boys will welcome Oklahoma Baptist University to Tucker Coliseum for a 3 p.m. GAC contest on Saturday, Feb. 4.