Will Adler's buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left wing gave Arkansas Tech University a 74-72 Great American Conference victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State University at Percefull Fieldhouse in Alva, Okla., on Saturday afternoon.
"I promise that is not what was drawn up in the huddle," said Chad Kline, ATU head coach. "We wanted Alex (Brown) to work off a ball screen, but (NWOSU) did a good job extending the defense with their two guys at the top. Fortunately, R.J. (Glasper) was smart enough to recognize that. We got lucky. This was a gutsy effort. We really challenged the guys at halftime. The first half was the worst we've played in about three weeks. We have a bunch of seniors leaders who won't let us quit."
Northwestern Oklahoma State's Jack Peck went on a one-man, 13-0 run to begin the game. He was 4-of-4 from the field over the first 3:36. Three of those makes were 3-pointers. He also made two free throws during his torrid start.
His teammates took the cue. Northwestern Oklahoma State was 16-of-22 (73 percent) from the field and 6-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc while building a 43-32 halftime lead.
Mason Cline was the only thing that kept Arkansas Tech (6-12 overall, 4-8 GAC) in the game through 20 minutes. He made 5-of-5 3-point attempts in the first half and had 17 points at the intermission.
The second half was a different story, particularly defensively for the Wonder Boys. They limited the Rangers to 39 percent field goal shooting (10-of-26) in the second half. Tech took its first lead of the game at 61-59 on an Adler 3-pointer with 7:15 to go. It was a harbinger of things to come.
Neither side led by more than four points the rest of the way. Adler made a trey with 41 seconds left to tie the score at 71-71, and after a Bryce Cashman free throw with 15 seconds remaining put NWOSU in front, the senior from Andover, Kan., made his game-winning shot off an assist from Freddy Lee.
Cline finished with a season-high 22 points. Brown notched 21 points for the Wonder Boys. Adler had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Lee dished out six assists to move into third place on Tech's career list in that category. The Clarksville product now has 465 career assists. Paul Brown (460 assists from 1967-70) is now fourth in career assists at ATU.
Peck finished with 22 points for the Rangers (5-13, 3-9).
The Wonder Boys will host East Central University for a 7:30 p.m. GAC contest at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Thursday, Jan. 31.
Beginning Thursday, seven of Arkansas Tech's final 10 conference doubleheaders this season will be played at home.
Tickets ($5 adults and $3 students/senior citizens) will be available at the door. Those with a valid ATU identification card will receive free admission.
Live coverage will be available from KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.