Wonder Boys Stay on a Roll With 79-74 Victory

Defense in crunch time gave Arkansas Tech University a 79-74 Great American Conference men’s basketball victory over Southwestern Oklahoma State University at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Thursday night.

The Wonder Boys (11-6 overall, 7-4 GAC) held the Bulldogs without a made field goal over the final 4:14 to earn their eighth consecutive win against SWOSU and improve to 11-1 at home this season.

“We finally started buying into the game plan after 36 minutes,” said Chad Kline, ATU head coach. “We were not gapping on the right guys, and they were driving it to the basket on us. We didn’t play great by any means, but we never panicked when we got behind. That’s a sign of a team that can win even when it’s not at its best.”

Southwestern Oklahoma State held Arkansas Tech without a made field goal over a span of more than nine minutes midway through the first half.

The Bulldogs took advantage with a 26-5 run that gave them a 36-19 lead at the 7:22 mark of the opening half.

Unfazed, the Wonder Boys went on a 13-0 run over a span of 3:38 to get back in the game. Kevin McNeal’s offensive rebound and put-back basket for ATU with 19.8 seconds remaining until halftime sent the game to intermission with the score tied 40-40.

Neither side gained a lead greater than five points at any point in the second half.

On three separate occasions over the final 6:36, a Wonder Boy made a steal and took the basketball coast-to-coast for an easy bucket on the other end.

R.J. Glasper’s steal and layup with 6:36 to go, Dillon Gooding’s steal and layup at the 4:38 mark and McNeal’s steal and slam dunk with 24.8 seconds left were integral in Arkansas Tech’s fifth win in its last seven games.

Devante Foster had a career-high 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for ATU. Gooding finished with 17 points, five rebounds and five steals, while Glasper contributed 13 points and Ke’Lyn Adams notched 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Damion Thornton led the Bulldogs (8-9, 4-7) with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Wonder Boys will welcome Northwestern Oklahoma State University to Tucker Coliseum for a 3 p.m. GAC contest Saturday, Jan. 25.

Tickets ($5 adults/$3 senior citizens and students) will be available at the door. Those with a valid ATU identification card will be admitted free of charge.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.