Tech Tidbits: ATU Takes Winning Streaks On The Road

Maisa Marcal 1-4-2024
Arkansas Tech's Maisa Marcal handles the basketball against East Central University in her Golden Suns' debut on Thursday, Jan. 4.

The new calendar year brought with it one significant subtraction and one significant addition to the Arkansas Tech University women’s basketball active roster.

Freshman Pacious McDaniel, who was leading NCAA Division II in scoring (21.8 points per game) at the end of the fall semester, suffered a season-ending knee injury during the holiday break.

“Pacious is one of the girls who loves to work out all the time, so she will do a great job with her rehab,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head women’s basketball coach. “We’ll miss her. She’s the nation’s leading scorer, so we’ll miss her. She can still give a lot to the team, and she knows that. There’s no doubt in my mind she’s going to come back strong.”

McDaniel’s injury coincided with senior Maisa Marcal (pronounced My-ee-sa Mar-sall) receiving clearance to make her Golden Suns’ debut after an injury prevented her from playing during the fall semester.

A transfer from NCAA Division I member Grand Canyon University, Marcal was the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference co-player of the year in 2021-22 at Independence Community College. She scored 17 points and made five 3-pointers in Arkansas Tech’s 74-57 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State University on Saturday.

“Maisa is in the gym as much as anybody,” said Wilbers. “You come out here and put in the work, it’s going to show. She’s probably shooting 300 or 400 shots per day.”

The Golden Suns (7-3 overall, 4-2 Great American Conference) have won three consecutive games. Those victories have come by an average margin of 22.3 points per game, and Wilbers credits fitness and bench production as key factors.

“Our depth since Christmas time has been really good,” said Wilbers. “I’ve been here 17 years, and this is one of the top two or three years they came back in shape. We didn’t have to take any steps back and work on conditioning. We were able to work on basketball skills, and I think it shows with the players coming off the bench. I have full confidence in what they can do, and they’re doing a good job playing both ends. You have to be a two-way player to be a good basketball player for us, and I think our team is taking that seriously.”

Arkansas Tech maintained sole possession of first place in the GAC men’s basketball standings and continued the Wonder Boys’ longest winning streak in seven years by defeating East Central University 76-43 on Thursday and Southeastern Oklahoma State 73-69 on Saturday.

Southeastern came in leading the GAC in scoring offense (88.9 points per game).

“These guys are learning how to win,” said Mark Downey, ATU head men’s basketball coach. “If we keep buying in and eliminate those little mistakes we can’t make, this team could be really, really good. This team is really fun to coach. To hold (Southeastern) to 69 points and 39 percent shooting from the floor…that’s my kind of basketball.”

The go-ahead basket on Saturday was delivered on an alley-oop with 40.8 seconds remaining. Cassius Brooks lobbed the inbound pass to the rim and Taelon Peter slammed it through to give the Wonder Boys (10-2, 6-0) the lead for good. It was the 10th consecutive win for ATU’s men.

“We threw the ball up twice tonight for Taelon to go get it, and if you do that, I’d say there’s a 95 percent chance Taelon’s going to go get it,” said Downey. “He did it on both of those plays and helped us win the game.”

Arkansas Tech will embark upon its only January road trip this week when it plays doubleheaders at Oklahoma Baptist University (5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11) and Southern Nazarene University (1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13).

Live coverage of all four games will be available over KCJC 102.3 FM, and the EAB Media Group app.

Talk to you on the radio.

Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.