Rangers Top Wonder Boys 85-78

David Thornton scored a career-high 30 points to lead Northwestern Oklahoma State University to an 85-78 Great American Conference men’s basketball victory over Arkansas Tech University Thursday night at Percefull Fieldhouse in Alva, Okla.

Thornton, who came in averaging 4.8 points per game this season, was 13-of-19 from the field in what was the next-to-last game of his collegiate career.

The senior from Aurora, Colo., also grabbed four rebounds to help the Rangers (9-18 overall, 6-15 GAC) complete a season sweep of the Wonder Boys.

Several of his 13 field goals were set up by A.J. Jones passes. Jones had 11 assists.

“We blew a couple of ball screen coverages, and when (Jones) gets downhill and gets into the paint he can make some plays,” said Chad Kline, ATU head coach. “He is a great decision maker. We knew it would be tough coming in here, but I thought our guys battled.”

NWOSU took the lead for good at 45-43 on a Thornton basket with 17:32 remaining. The Rangers maintained an advantage of between two and nine points the rest of the way.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Dillon Gooding and Ke’Lyn Adams pulled the Wonder Boys within 79-76 with 1:15 remaining, but four NWOSU free throws sandwiched around a Jack Peck layup gave the Rangers an 85-76 edge with 20 seconds to go.

Adams paced Arkansas Tech with 17 points. Tony Hall had 12 points, while Gooding and Kevin McNeal contributed 11 points apiece.

ATU (12-15, 8-13) lost for the ninth time in its last 10 games and fell to 0-11 on the road this season. With the loss, the Wonder Boys were eliminated from contention for a berth in the 2020 GAC Tournament.

Arkansas Tech will conclude its 2019-20 men’s basketball season with a GAC contest against Southwestern Oklahoma State University (12-15, 8-13) on Saturday, Feb. 29. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. at the Pioneer Cellular Event Center in Weatherford, Okla.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.