Wonder Boys Rally to Top West Alabama

Nationally 22nd-ranked Arkansas Tech overcame a 15-point second half deficit to defeat the West Alabama Tigers 61-58 in non-conference men’s basketball at Pruitt Hall in Livingston, Ala., on Saturday.

The Wonder Boys (4-1) held West Alabama without a made field goal for the final 6:52 as Arkansas Tech picked up its first road victory of the season.

West Alabama took an 8-7 lead with 15:32 left in the first half, and the Tigers did not relinquish the advantage until Tech’s Johnie Davis made a 15-foot jump shot from the free throw line with 31.6 seconds left in the game.

Davis’ jumper gave the Wonder Boys a 59-58 lead. West Alabama’s Trevell Coleman then missed a runner from right of the lane and Matt Haney grabbed the defensive rebound for Tech with 12.1 seconds to go.

Haney was fouled and made both free throws to give the Wonder Boys a 61-58 edge.

Alquan Mendenhall attempted a well-defended 3-pointer to tie on West Alabama’s final possession, but it was no good, Richard Dixon’s follow-up from in front of the rim missed and the rebound bounced out of bounds as time expired.

Arkansas Tech would never have been in position for a rally were it not for the work of Willie Sanders in the first half. He scored 14 of his career-high 24 points before halftime to keep the Wonder Boys within shouting distance at 36-26.

West Alabama looked like it might pull away early in the second half. The Tigers scored the first five points of the half to move in front 41-26 with 17:56 left.

Following a Tech timeout, the Wonder Boys went on a 13-0 run to trim West Alabama’s lead to 41-39 at the 13:18 mark.

A 3-pointer by Dixon gave the Tigers a 44-39 lead with 10:56 to go, and West Alabama maintained an advantage of between five and eight points for the next four minutes.

That was when the Wonder Boys locked the Tigers down, forcing them to shoot 0-for-7 from the field and commit three turnovers in the final seven minutes.

West Alabama (3-2) also hurt itself by missing its final six free throw tries.

Davis finished with 11 points for the Wonder Boys, eight of which came in the final 6:39. James Causey added 10 points.

Arkansas Tech won despite shooting just 17-of-57 (30 percent) from the field and despite a 40-31 rebounding deficit.

The Wonder Boys forced 23 turnovers and held a 37-13 advantage in bench scoring.

Mendenhall had a team-high 14 points for West Alabama.

The Wonder Boys will travel on to Carrollton, Ga., where they will face the West Georgia Wolves at 6:30 p.m. (CST) on Monday, Nov. 29.

The game will be broadcast live by radio station KWKK 100.9 FM in the Arkansas River Valley. The broadcast will be streamed over the Internet at www.athletics.atu.edu.