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Tigers Hang On to Top Wonder Boys

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East Central University took advantage of a flurry of early turnovers by Arkansas Tech University and defeated the Wonder Boys 94-85 in Great American Conference play at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday.

The Tigers (8-4 overall, 4-2 GAC) converted 13 Arkansas Tech giveaways over the first 12-plus minutes of the game into 21 points off turnovers. ECU led 41-15 with 7:26 to go in the first half, and the margin swelled to 29 points before the Wonder Boys started their comeback.

Tech (7-3, 3-3) scored the final nine points of the opening period to pull within 56-38 at halftime. The Wonder Boys whittled their deficit down to seven points when Justin Graham’s layup with 1:03 remaining in the game cut East Central’s lead to 90-83, but that was as close as Tech could get.

A Brett Cannon layup and a pair of Braxton Reeves free throws in the final 51 seconds helped the Tigers hold on for their eighth consecutive win.

“It was a recipe for a perfect storm,” said Wonder Boys head coach Chad Kline when asked about his team’s slow start. “We had too many careless turnovers, and to (East Central’s) credit, they punished us for them. If you have 21 turnovers against a team as good as that one, you’re going to get beat 10 times out of 10.”

Reeves, the leading scorer in the GAC this season, finished with 29 points for the Tigers. He was 8-of-17 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free throw line. Ishmael Donzo contributed 15 points and nine rebounds for ECU, while KD Moore added 13 points and Camron Talley chipped in 10 points.

Graham paced Tech with 17 points. Alex Brown had 16 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Bennie Lufile notched his fourth double-double of 2016-17 with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Trevin Woods also finished with 12 points for the Wonder Boys, who saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.

Arkansas Tech will host Ouachita Baptist University for a 7:30 p.m. GAC men’s contest at Tucker Coliseum on Thursday, Jan. 12.