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Zone Defense Lifts Tech to Victory

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A defensive adjustment and a series of clutch 3-pointers produced a 60-47 Arkansas Tech victory over the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers in men’s basketball action at Spragins Hall in Huntsville on Monday night.

The nationally fifth-ranked Wonder Boys (11-0) trailed at halftime for the first time this season, and Alabama-Huntsville led by as many as seven points early in the second half.

That was when Tech head coach Mark Downey switched to a 2-3 zone defense. The Chargers were no longer able to make backdoor cuts for layups out of their Princeton-style offense, and Alabama-Huntsville was unable to take advantage of the occasional open look from the perimeter.

UAH (7-4) was just 3-of-20 from 3-point range for the game, including 1-of-8 in the second half.

And as is often the case, Tech’s success on the defensive end spurred similar results on the offensive end.

Brandon Friedel hit a 3-pointer with 10:52 left that cut UAH’s lead to 41-39. Little more than a minute later, Renard Allen tied the score with two free throws.

Jeremy Dunbar gave the Wonder Boys their first lead since the 5:58 mark of the first half when he made a free throw with 8:17 to go. He followed that with a 3-pointer, and Marcus Pillow hit a trey of his own. The 9-0 spurt gave Tech a 48-41 advantage with 6:26 left.

Perimeter shots put the Wonder Boys out in front, and perimeter shots helped them put it away.  Friedel made his fifth 3-pointer of the night with 2:21 remaining to make it 55-47, and Dunbar drove the final nail with his trey at the 1:08 mark. That set the final score of 60-47.

When it was done, Tech had outscored Alabama-Huntsville 24-6 over the final 10:52.

Tech’s 11-game winning streak matches the eighth-longest string of consecutive wins in the 95-year history of Wonder Boys basketball.

Friedel led all scorers with 21 points.  Dunbar finished with 14 points and Allen had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Josh Yost and Cody Jones scored 10 points apiece for the Chargers.

The Wonder Boys will not play again until Jan. 4, when they will visit Northeastern State University (Okla.).

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